Feature, Healthcare

Italian hospital installs CoeLux skylight in radiosurgery bunker

A hospital in Milan has become the first building to install the groundbreaking CoeLux skylight, which artificially reproduces the effect of sunlight indoors.

Humanitas University Hospital has installed CoeLux in a windowless underground bunker in its radiosurgery department, where patients are treated for brain tumours.

The patient’s view of the CoeLux skylight

It’s the ideal application for CoeLux: the room can’t have any natural light because it has to be enclosed to stop radiation escaping, but at the same time it’s important for patients to feel safe, healthy and at ease.

The hospital is hoping that the addition of ‘sunlight’ will have a positive psychological and physiological effect on patients undergoing surgery, and reduce the anxious feeling of being in an enclosed, windowless space.

CoeLux’s inventor Paolo di Trapani told Lux: ‘Bunkers used for radiosurgery can look like a cave, like a place you can’t escape from, and that’s the last thing the patient wants. So to be able to bring the sun and the sky in there is really important.’

The company is now getting a lot of enquiries from other hospitals, Di Trapani said.

“I often find myself explaining to patients that it’s fake”

Dr Piero Picozzi, Humanitas University Hospital

Dr Piero Picozzi, head of Humanitas’ radiosurgery department, said: ‘I often find myself explaining to patients that it’s fake. The effects of the produced blue sky and the shining sun are so real.

‘In the bunkers, the patients, especially the claustrophobic ones, are negatively impacted by stress. The light is therapeutic, changing the patients’ humour, causing them to smile, which is important when facing a difficult illness.’

CoeLux, the result of 10 years of research by di Trapani, uses a layer of nanomaterials to recreate the natural effect that makes the sky blue, known as Rayleigh scattering. It also creates an illusion that the light source is further away than it actually is, so it looks like the sun.

It was the standout innovation at last year’s LuxLive show in London, and won the Lux Award for Light Source Innovation of the Year. The product has been demonstrated at  a number of showrooms and exhibitions, but the Humanitas project is the first real-world commercial installation.

Watch our exclusive CoeLux video: