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Environmental education facility lighting design wins SOURCE Award

Interior architecture graduate student Isabel Leon-Villasmil won SOURCE Awardsrecognition for her commercial lighting design in 2018.

Leon-Villasmil’s project, entitled Creative Building: Department on Architecture + Construction + Landscape Architecture, explores the concept of combining design with environmental education. The result? A design that revolves around using the building as a space to teach instead of simply a space where teaching occurs.

The Eaton’s Lighting Division team talked with Leon-Villasmil to learn more about what inspired her project and how it felt to win a SOURCE Award.

What was it like winning a SOURCE Award?

IV: Receiving this award has been incredible; I just returned from LIGHTFAIR in Chicago, where I witnessed amazing architecture on top of meeting and networking with other design students. The opportunities that the SOURCE Awards provides are inspiring and a fantastic way to learn.

What motivated you to enter the contest?

IV: As an architect from Venezuela, I attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to complete my master’s degree in interior architecture, and my thesis chair told me about the competition. I was excited to learn about the SOURCE Awards and thought it would be challenging but worth it as a way to propel my career and learn new skills.

Tell us about your award-winning commercial lighting design.

IV: The building’s innovative concept immerses students in an environmentally friendly atmosphere that teaches them about building systems, well-being and sustainability, while increasing their environmental knowledge and encouraging the practice of environmentally responsible behaviors. My design seeks to maximize daylighting strategies to enhance circadian rhythms and improve subjective mood, attention, cognitive performance, physical activity, sleep quality and alertness in students and staff while saving energy.

With a focus on sustainability, the project seeks to increase energy efficiency through daylight harvesting and LED lamps. Occupancy sensors and daylight sensors further decrease energy loads.

All lamps in the lighting design are LEDs, which allows color temperature to be taken into consideration. Research proves that cooler color temperatures help students focus and concentrate on tasks, which improves productivity. Cool color temperatures can also improve students’ behavior and mood. Therefore, I chose light fixtures at 4,000K for spaces such as offices, classrooms and studios.

What inspired you to pursue interior design? Do you specialize in a particular aspect?

IV: When I was receiving my bachelor’s degree in architecture, I learned that I care most about the interior of the building and how the space is used, rather than the exterior. Lighting is important, and it goes beyond aesthetics. It affects the function of the space, and it can complement any good design. I specialize in the design of educational facilities, and I wrote my thesis on public schools and environmentally responsible behaviors.

What would you tell someone aspiring to win a SOURCE Award?

IV: The most important thing is to feel passionate about it. Find a project that has potential to win and discover how you can enhance it. Also, find someone who can help you throughout the process, like a mentor. They have the expertise and can help with things you may not know.

The SOURCE Awards lighting design competition is open to current students who use Eaton’s lighting fixtures and controls in a conceptual interior or exterior lighting design. University students studying architecture, design, engineering or related disciplines are invited to enter.