Your Interview Jemima Unwin Teji


Jemima Unwin Teji

Architect, Researcher
Introduce yourself (name, company, position, country) and tell us how you got into lighting design (including education/qualifications).

I’m Dr Jemima Unwin Teji, Lecturer and Programme Leader, Light and Lighting, UCL. I’m also Founder of Studio JU, an architecture and lighting practice. The field of lighting has been a long time fascination, turned into passion and profession. I hold a PhD and MSc in Lighting and am also a Chartered Architect.

During my MSc, I was intrigued by the process of gathering empirical evidence to address lighting related real life problems. This led me onto pursuing my Doctorate. I’m fortunate to now be in a professional which is research oriented and allows me to continue my exploration of the effects of light on human behaviour in a myriad of ways.

Tell us about your work – is there a specific type of project you like to work on or an area you specialise in and why?

My research projects examine the effects of light on behaviour, including but not limited to pedestrian flows, driving, crime and way finding in buildings. I endeavour to strike a balance between the theoretical and practical to ensure that new knowledge gained can be usefully applied. I enjoy using both epidemiological studies and interview techniques. One gives breadth and the other depth. There are many ways to learn about the effects of light on people and other living organisms.

In my practice I’ve led projects across healthcare, transport and residential sectors. I enjoy bringing about the desired transformation by applying scientific knowledge and creative aesthetics.

What project are you most proud of and why?

Every project has its subtleties and nuances which often requires navigating through constraints. That said, one that really stands out is a pedestrian flow study carried out across Europe on a minuscule budget. The results were exciting as they showed how lighting affects route taking behaviour.

On the practice front, the first large scale prime residential refurbishment for which I was lead architect and contract administrator under my own practice, has a special place in my heart.

Overall, I’m proud of the most challenging projects which often change you a practicing professional.

What is the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your career?

I don’t see this as a challenge but more of a necessity ... evolving scientific research approaches which include keeping up with cutting edge analysis techniques, collaborating with diverse but like minded people to solve problems and being data savvy.

How does light inspire you?

Light as a source of energy driving the entire ecosystem is in itself immensely inspiring. The changes from sunrise to sunset affect mood and emotion. It is this variation that I find the most inspiring. We find meaning in the variation of both daylight and electric lighting. It defines what we see, and gives us information about time, location, place and what we should be doing.

What is your message for other Women In Lighting?

Do your best and persist!

Lives in:
Born in:
BArch, DipArch, ADPPA, MSc, PhD.
Started working with light in:
Now works at:
As well as being:
Professional membership:
Open water swimming. Being a mum. Art.

“Do your best and persist!”

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