You take a step into a clean white-walled room. A skylight window lets in sunshine, illumining the space and casting gentle shadows against the walls. Except this is a sealed room – and the window is actually an artificial light.

This incredibly realistic impression of daylight is created by Coelux, the eponymous lighting system developed by a commercial offshoot of the University of Insubria. Situated near Lake Como, the Italian manufacturer specialises in lighting that replicates natural atmospheric illumination.

Coelux is the result of years of interdisciplinary research, which combines optical physics, architecture, material science and numerical modelling to replicate the lighting conditions normally found in nature. These lamps project light using Rayleigh scattering, a method of diffusion that naturally occurs when sunlight enters the atmosphere and which creates the blue sky effect we’re all familiar with.

 

Coelux 02

 

The most remarkable aspect is the realism: depending on the solar elevation you select, you could almost believe that you were experiencing the summer climes of Capri or Saint Thomas. This bright tropical light or balanced Mediterranean ambience compares favourably to the occasionally overbearing artificiality that is associated with more traditional lighting.

For windowless and underground rooms, the replication of daylight can completely transform an otherwise gloomy space into a perfect area for relaxing, socialising or working. By pairing Coelux with regular lighting systems, homeowners can create a more natural environment that won’t disrupt the body clock or look out of place at certain times of day. It could additionally be employed in home cinemas, opening the room for other uses than simply sitting down in front of the latest blockbuster.

 

Coelux 01

 

If there is one significant downside, it is the overhead clearance required to accommodate Coelux’s ceiling-mounted systems. The company states a minimum room height of 2.2m, but it would desirable to have more than this so that the room doesn’t feel cramped once it has been put in. As this will not be possible for all underground spaces, this should be taken carefully into consideration. For spaces where there is insufficient room height, the 45 Square lamp – which is wall-mounted and only requires 35cm of ceiling depth – is a potential work-around.

For those that suffer from the lack of sunlight in the cold, blustery winter months, Coelux might be just the thing that your home needs to create a little slice of summer to retreat into. Who knows – it might literally brighten up your day.