This week, light goes under the proverbial (and literal) microscope as researchers explore new ways to gauge its effect on humans and reconsider how we illuminate our cities at night. Plus, a novel light-shifting skin that could help spot structural defects in buildings.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed an ultra-thin skin (shown above) that changes color when force is applied, joining a class of materials that could one day help to detect structural damage in buildings. The flexible silicon film is etched to reflect specific wavelengths, or colors, of light. [ScienceDaily]

A new report from Arup reconsiders how the urban built environment is illuminated after dark. “Cities Alive: Rethinking the Shades of Night” is the result of a cross-disciplinary study into the ways lighting can be used to improve the functionality of 24-hour cities at night. [Arup]

University of California, Berkeley

Ronald Rael, AIA, principal at Oakland, Calif.–based studio Emerging Objects and associate professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley led a team that recently 3D-printed a freestanding pavilion, Bloom (shown above), using powder-based cement. The process allows for the creation of a construction that is lighter, more complex, and whose fabrication creates less waste than earlier methods. [Gizmag]

A new camera that emulates the visual perception of the human eye could help better understand how natural and electric light impacts people. Developed by a team at the École Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, the camera is fitted with filters that detect radiation levels in a space and gauge the effect on occupants. []

Two designers have created a digital–physical installation that crowd-sources the design of a 40-centimeter foam cube via a browser app that emulates the remote control of a robotic arm (shown above). The project, called Robochop, suggests a future in which consumers can participate in a hands-on manner—albeit from afar—in large-scale manufacturing. [Dezeen]

Top GIF courtesy University of California, Berkeley; bottom GIF courtesy Kramweisshaar.