Obituary: Professor Ralph Hopkinson

Ralph Galbraith Hopkinson, designer and engineer: born 13 August 1913; Research Engineer, GEC 1934-47; Principal Scientific Officer, DSIR Building Research Station 1947-64; Haden-Pilkington Professor of Environmental Design and Engineering, University College London 1965-76 (Emeritus); President, Illuminating Engineering Society of Great Britain 1965-66; Honorary Fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects 1969; Dean, Faculty of Environmental Studies, UCL London 1972-74; married 1938 Beryl Churchill (died 1993; two sons, and one son deceased); died St Albans 11 June 1994.

DURING THE 1950s and 1960s Ralph Hopkinson made an important contribution to the advancement of lighting design through his research at the Building Research Station at Garston, Watford. His studies ranged from investigations into visual discomfort, brightness and its effect on the visual environment to day- lighting as a fundamental part of architecture. These studies not only advanced the subject of lighting but had a substantial influence on building design, particularly in schools and hospitals.

Before going to the BRS in 1947 Hopkinson had worked at the Research Laboratories of the General Electric Company on lighting and radar from 1934 to 1947. He studied electrical engineering at Faraday House and was awarded a doctorate at London University. For his doctoral thesis he investigated, using a newly developed photographic technique, the luminance distributions of road-lighting installations.

While at the Building Research Station, Hopkinson developed a close affinity for architecture, and when Richard (later Lord) Llewelyn-Davies became Head of the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London it was natural for Hopkinson to be invited, in 1965, to fill the newly established chair of Environmental Design and Engineering which was jointly funded by GN Haden and Pilkington Brothers. This was an important development in architectural education, providing the subjects of human factors and environmental design as natural complements to the more traditional aspects of architecture. Hopkinson's research work was translated into the design work of his practice which received awards from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America for the lighting of the London Stock Exchange Market Hall and the 1978 extension of the Tate Gallery.

Hopkinson's distinction in lighting education and research led in 1965 to his election as President of the Illuminating Engineering Society of Great Britain and in 1972 he was awarded the Society's Gold Medal. In 1969, in recognition of his contribution to architecture, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

His early studies of psycho- physics, and in particular the work on visual comfort and discomfort glare, led on to investigations into visual and noise intrusion. This work provided valuable information for the Department of the Environment in the planning of urban motorways and in 1972 Hopkinson wrote a significant paper for the journal of the Royal Town Planning Institute on visual intrusion in the landscape and how this could be measured using psycho-physical techniques.

Ralph Hopkinson was in many ways a very private person who did not take easily to the public platform. He was happily married for 55 years to Beryl Churchill, with whom he shared a love of music and the countryside. The eldest of their three sons died prematurely in 1969, a loss that they overcame with the support of their two surviving sons and their families. Beryl herself died last October.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory