Natural sunlight is one of the most prized ‘tools’ in the architect’s arsenal, but a new light technology developed by Professor Paolo Di Trapani at Italy’s University of Insubria could change the way artificial lights are perceived for indoor architecture.

CoeLux is a new light source that recreates the look of sunlight through a skylight, apparently well enough so that it tricks both human brains and cameras.

This LED skylight uses a thin coating of nanoparticles to artificially reproduce the natural light and visual appearance of the sun and sky, allowing it to accurately simulate the Rayleigh scattering effect which is responsible for the yellow tones of the sun and the blue in the sky.

Pitched at interiors with no access to natural light such as subways and parking garages, CoeLux can also be used for hospitality, residential, healthcare, public and retail applications. Ken Kessler from The Telegraph recently visited an installation of the technology at Ideaworks in London, and said:

“It is not a sunlamp. You will not tan, and I doubt your photo-chromatic glasses will dim. Butyour brain will incontrovertibly believe that you are in a room in Portofinoin August, or Miami in September."

Three solutions are currently on offer to meet different aesthetic requirements:

  • CoeLux 60, which offers a cooler, vertical sunlight and the maximum luminance contrast of light and shadow;
  • CoeLux 45, which features a 45 degree ceiling beam that offers an equal balance of light and shade for a Mediterranean effect, and;
  • CoeLux 30, for enthusiasts of Nordic countries, as it is a wall window with a 30 degree angle beam relative to the horizon that reproduces a warm, grazing light.

CoeLux clinched the Lux Awards 2014 Light Source Innovation of the Year award, with the judges calling the innovation “a groundbreaking artificial skylight [that] really had to be seen to be believed.” However, the price could be a sore point for those getting excited – according to Peta Pixel CoeLux currently costs £40,000 to buy, and up to £5,000 to install.

Watch how the skylight works in this video: