The Pantheon allows sunlight to gently illuminate the floor below. Hadrian was aware of the effective and affective nature of the building. He wrote about the Pantheon that he had reconstructed in 126AD:
My intentions had been that this sanctuary of All Gods should reproduce the likeness of the terrestrial globe and of the stellar sphere. The cupola revealed the sky through a great hole at the center, showing alternately dark and blue. This temple, both open and mysteriously enclosed, was conceived as a solar quadrant. The hours would make their round on that caissoned ceiling so carefully polished by Greek artisans; the disk of daylight would rest suspended there like a shield of gold; rain would form its clear pool on the pavement below, prayers would rise like smoke toward that void where we place the Gods
The only natural light enters through an unglazed oculus at the center of the Pantheon dome and through the bronze doors to the portico. The hole performs like a sundial to mark the passing of the hours and the dates of equinox and solstice and it symbolizes a union between earth and sky. It is a clever symbiosis of minimalist engineering and meditative design.
The engineering of natural light and the need to induce spiritual calm can also be seen in the recent work by Tadao Ando and the Church of Light in Osaka, Japan. This is a small work of religious architecture built in a residential area. Ando reduced the architectural elements to a bare minimum and produced a highly symbolic space of worship with a simple box-shaped composition of concrete that has as its theme the phenomenon of light and shadow.
For Ando, the Church of Light is an architecture of duality – the dual nature of [co]existence – solid/void, light/dark, stark/serene. The coexisting differences leave the church void of any, and all, ornament creating a pure, unadorned space. The intersection of light and solid raises the occupants awareness of the spiritual and secular within themselves.
The cross on the east façade allows for light throughout the early morning and into the day, which has a dematerializing effect on the interior concrete walls transforming the dark volume into an illuminated box. Just as in the Pantheon this arrangement of natural light has has a surreal effect that perceptually changes material into immaterial, dark into light, light into space. Lise de Vito says that Tadao Ando’s churches are:
great examples of how little light you need to heighten emotion. It’s part of our human instinct
Humanity seems to yearn for this complex arrangement of engineering and solar engineering. The ancient engineers that created Newgrange the prehistoric monument located in County Meath had a keen understanding of solar orientation and its capacity to function as a metaphoric instrument. It was built between circa 3100 and 2900 BC, during the Neolithic period. Considered to have been used as a religious temple because it is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, which floods the stone room with light.
Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box. This baffling orifice held a great surprise for those who unearthed it. Its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the chamber on the shortest days of the year, around December 21, the winter solstice. At dawn a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the rear of the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated.
This event lasts for 17 minutes, beginning around 9am. The accuracy of Newgrange as a time-telling device is remarkable when one considers that it was built 500 years before the Great Pyramids and more than 1,000 years before Stonehenge. The intent of its builders was undoubtedly to mark the beginning of the new year. In addition, it may have served as a powerful symbol of the victory of life over death.
So both the Pantheon and Newgrange are natural clocks, the manifestation of the umbilic relationship between humans and natural light. This close connection can be seen in two health-related phenomenon – SAD, and also the impact of natural light on Biological Rhythms.
According to Irish Health, SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that is due to a lack of exposure to light during the winter. It begins in the autumn (usually October or November) and subsides in the spring (usually March or April).
SAD can simply be a nuisance to live with or severe enough to affect your ability to function from day to day. It affects women more than men and occurs most often during people’s twenties through to their forties.
People with SAD will experience some or all of the following symptoms, starting in autumn, intensifying in winter, and subsiding in spring:
Lack of exposure to light seems to be the main trigger of SAD symptoms. There are theories on the underlying biochemical process that is affected by the lack of light.
An abnormality in one or more neurotransmitters and/or hormones is the suspected cause of SAD. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that carry messages between nerve cells. The neurotransmitter serotonin is considered to be a likely cause of SAD because its concentration in the brain varies with the seasons, the smallest amount occurring during the winter.
The sleep cycle has been governed by patterns of light and darkness for thousands of years. Our bodies are naturally encoded to fall asleep soon after the descent of night’s curtain and to wake with the appearance of the dawn. However, artificial light has changed the way we schedule our day-to-day lives, and most of us slumber for less than seven hours at a stretch. Our reliance on indoor lighting further compounds our disassociation from the natural cycles of light and darkness that would otherwise preside over our sleep.
However, in the absence of natural light our body clocks may lose or gain a little time. This in turn could lead to the resynchronization of different rhythms. For example, in the absence of sufficient environmental light the sleep-wake and associated rest-activity rhythms may lengthen to a cycle of between 30 and 48 hours, while the temperature rhythm may remain at a period of, say, 25 hours. Such resynchronization of the body”s intricate rhythms is suspected to trigger problems: hormonal imbalances sleep disorders and mood disturbances.
An alternative to Natural Light is to use an alarm clock designed for the purpose. Philips developed a lamp combined with an alarm clock that gradually increases the intensity of light in the morning.
The Architect Cesar Portela discusses these ideas in his essay Light and Architecture. The best lighting is almost always one that you do not notice. You sometimes enter a place and you cannot perceive it or appreciate what it contains, because the light blinds you.The relationship between architecture and light is not a new one, highlighted by Lao-Tse’s, an ancient Chinese philosopher, comments:
Architecture is not four walls and a roof; it is also, and above all, the air that remains within, the space that these enclose
Japanese and Chinese architecture has been sensitive to this space within the walls and roof as has already been discussed here in relation to Feng Shui and Architecture and the capacity to reduce the stress of a building’s occupants.
Portela says that architecture and light, or light and architecture are concepts that have been interdependent throughout history, to the point that one of Bruno Zevi’s, an Italian architect, most important essays is called: “light as an architectural form”. Le Corbusier, the Swiss architect said that:
Architecture is the wise, correct and magnificent play of volumes collected together under the light
The divine and protective light encouraged meditation in Romanic architecture. Furthermore, Gothic stained glass windows creating supernatural light, the humanized light of the Renaissance and the Baroque’s sublime light.
The following 10 buildings demonstrate the diversity of natural light engineering in Architecture today
|1. Architecture Centre, Amsterdam|
|The original Architecture Centre Amsterdam called for a larger, more modern space; something that would become an apt representation of architectural inspiration and innovation. Resourceful architect Rene van Zuuk took a crack at a fresh design that would incorporate the future of architecture while still making use of the original structures existing floors and columns – a condition for the new plan. Van Zuuk has artfully blended the old with the new. The contemporary trapezoid-shaped building boasts a magnificent, irregular-shaped window spilling across its facade. Where not windowed, the building is clad in KalZip skin – “a folded seam method ideal for creating singularly curved surfaces. The zinc-coated aluminum strips forming a continuous plane curling itself all around the building mass,” according to the architects. Inside, the three-storey structure is flooded with natural light via the expansive window, and glass partitions inside let the light freely flow from one area to the next. Rene van Zuuk.Click here to see the website of Arcam, the Architecture Centre of AmsterdamFrom Trendir|
|2.“511″ House of Pacific Palisades, California|
|These photos of the house to present the work of Kanner Architects on the “511″ House of Pacific Palisades, California. A theme in the plans of the house was to blur the boundaries between inside and outside. The first floor is almost entirely lit by natural light with windows and sliding glass doors throughout. The main house areas such as living room, kitchen and dining room are located on this floor. The sliding glass doors can be pulled back to allow the natural breeze coming in the transformation of the floor on a patio close because of all the sun. Inspiration for the house were drawn by Richard Neutra and Ray Eames. The furniture show much influence Eames’.From Exterior Design|
|3. Olnick Spanu House, Garrison, New York|
|Designed by Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza. The high transparency of living and dining spaces in Olnick Spanu House are planned on the top of the cement box to get the best view over the landscape, while giving a sense of privacy to the sleeping zone in the solid cement box which is anchored to the ground.From: House Variety|
|4. The aquatic complex Les Bains des Docks, Le Harve|
|The aquatic complex Les Bains des Docks, designed by architect Jean Nouvel, has just opened in the historical Port of Le Havre, France. The 5.000 square meter complex offers a beautiful atmosphere of tranquility with the fantastic play of natural light soothing the eyes, the masterful acoustic pleasing the ears, and the pools and treatments areas taking care of the rest of the body.From: Cool Boom|
|5. The Bloch Building, Kansas City|
|Fluttering T walls, conceived by Steven Holl Architects are dually functional, serving as the main structural thrust for each illuminated block, while also deflecting the natural light downwards into the interior spaces. Steven Holl Architect’s senior partner worked closely with museum hired Richard Renfro, of Renfro Design Group (light specialists) making sure the light levels in each gallery space (and even the underground parking garage) were calculated to the recommended levels to best display the art while preserving it. Even with the overcast winter sky during our tour, the spaces were entirely lit through the day by natural light. It almost excuses the fact that the museum is illuminated like lanterns during the night, making the surrounding sculpture park equally as enjoyable any time of day. Almost…From: Inhabitat|
|6. The Green Lighthouse, Copenhagen|
|Architecture Building the Green Lighthouse completed by Christensen & Co Architects Architecture building, which seamlessly blend airfields anatomy or architectural design, construction structure applied science with the architecture of the conception of creative thinking and technology into the building agitating amazing and incomparable aesthetics up, receive a holistic approach to architecture, lighting purpose architecture, interior decoration fit and decorating environment and sustainability. Designed and conducted by Christensen & designer of carbon monoxide on the design of the spectacular architecture of the anatomical structure shaped sundial, green beacon to the Faculty by adeptnesses scientific discipline that is placed at the University of Copenhagen is the first building electroneutral carbon in Denmark. The fact that 75% of the reduction of energy consumption economy after address with the architectural design of buildings. Sustainable design is not questioned by binging architectural design of buildings with bold, large hi-tech equipment-ticket, it’s just good common sense beginning with antiquity. That is the opinion by the public of CO2 construction imagine electroneutral with Avid sustainable architectural design and planning of architectural design. The companies affected in this project is the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and conception, the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen City and manufacturers of window glass and VELUX VELFAC.From: Artchings|
|7. Aviva Stadium, Dublin|
|“Its form, mass, materials, and aspect are defined by the site and its surrounds. A shimmering form of transparent ‘shingles’ rises in the east and west to position the majority of spectators in the desirable side locations of the pitch and falls in the north to minimize the impact of the building on the adjoining neighborhoods. The transparent roof is lowered to the southern sky to maximize the sunlight onto the high-performance sports turf to ensure that the best possible playing surface is produced. The undulating transparent form is an ephemeral addition to the skyline of Dublin. Reflecting the color of the sky and light conditions, the building’s façade is ever changing.”From: Solaripedia|
|8. The Gridshell, Sussex|
|The “Gridshell” is essentially an Industrial building, built for the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex. It is a no-frills solution to the problem posed by the Museum, for a large tall open space where the timbers and frames of historic buildings can be laid out for conservation and repair, before being erected on the site of the Museum. The design objectives for the project were for sustainable construction, and energy efficiency: an early decision was made that daylighting should provide the means of illumination. Artificial light was seen as a necessary supplementary provision for extended hours usage, or in extreme winter conditions.The primary use for the building required a large tall open space free of obstruction for the conservation work, with a smaller area for use as a museum and storing of the Museum’s artifacts. Whilst the former required a high level of energy efficient lighting (interpreted as daylighting during the day), the artifacts store would have intermittent use and might therefore be met by artificial light at all times.The architect, Edward Cullinan’s, sketch design illustrates the concept for the building, showing the tall “conservation space” above ground level, well daylit from roof lighting, whilst the “artifacts store” is placed at a lower level cut into the chalk hillside, artificially lit when in use.Three important considerations were apparent;
The Daylighting consists of continuous rows of Polycarbonate sheeting at a high level, which on the North side is “clear”, letting in maximum daylight, and on the South side, it has a “bronze tint” to reduce possible sun glare.
From: Derek Phillips
|9. Jubilee Tube Line, London|
|Arriving at Southwark Station you are fed by daylit escalators to the “intermediate concourse” which leads you either down to the main Jubilee Line train level, or upwards to Waterloo East; The intermediate concourse being a key element of circulation. The concourse is daylit from overhead by means of a cone clad in blue glass patterned in triangles, the daylight through the cone being controlled by “piranese” like deep louvers. This is an enormously impressive space, and a dignified entrance to the “world of the train”.From: Derek Phillips|
|Canada Water Station|
|A glazed cylindrical ticket hall at ground level allows light to filter gently down to the escalators below, with dynamic patterns of sunlight and shadow.From: Derek Phillips|
|10. High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.|
|A key aspiration was creating gallery spaces in which natural light was the primary source of illumination. Skylights on the roof were designed to allow diffused north light and reflected sunlight to enter the gallery, while excluding direct sunlight. The design process involved many stages of evaluation and prediction to ensure conservation limits were not exceeded, also ensuring that artworks would not be damaged from excessive light exposure. The resulting quantity and distribution of natural light minimizes electric lighting energy consumption in 25 percent of the new gallery spaces. Principal lighting designer on the project is Andrew Sedgwick of Arup Lighting in London. Arfon Davies is also credited for the lighting design on the project.This project was a 2006 IALD winner.|
Derek Philips FCIBSE offers some insights into the design of buildings that maximise the use of natural light in architecture.
1. Change and Variety
The human desire for change wrought by the changes in the seasons, the weather and the time of day. Artificial means have sometimes been adopted to replicate this variety by means of electric sources, but with little success.
The direction of natural light providing the shadow patterns which inform the appearance of objects and surfaces, and give them the appearance that we associate with the natural world.
Orientation is of importance not only in the external siting of buildings to maximize the influence of diurnal change but to enable those within a building to establish themselves in relation to the world outside.
4. Sunlight effect
When it is available sunlight has a therapeutic effect and the importance of access to a degree of sunlight during the day is most noticeable when it is denied.
Natural colour may vary throughout the day, but it is the standard by which all colour is judged, and there is no artificial source which can match it.
6. View out
Access to a view out may not have been paramount in the minds of the early building designers, but it is not only in the 20th century that the view from buildings has been conceived to be of some importance.
Windows do more than letting in light and are often associated with solar shielding and ventilation. This development had the important effect of increasing the “daylight effective depth” and has its modern equivalent in the atriums we see today, the word atrium being devised from the original Roman patio house.The importance of the introduction of daylight to modern building interiors can be measured by the innovative methods often employed; these include the use of “Light pipes” where glazed apertures are left in the roof with daylight being directed to parts of the building by means of reflective ducts, sometimes associated with heliostats placed on the roof to track the sun path.
The greater use of daylight can lead to a reduction in the use of electrical energy and assist significantly in the battle to solve the energy crisis.
Special “intelligent” light fittings are now available which react directly to the light level of a space, adding or subtracting light in relation to the available daylight.There are some areas in buildings where daylight can never reach an electric light will always be required; just as there are some buildings, such as homes, where the electric light will rarely be necessary during daylight hours.
A careful study of the plans related to energy efficient daylighting design will indicate where sufficient daylight is available, and where it will need to be supplemented.The new science of Photovoltaics where the glass skin of the building is used for solar collection is in its infancy; but the possibilities for energy savings are obvious, and this is where architects have a role to play, as important as the established needs for the introduction of alternative sources of energy from wave or wind.
People like daylight, and in some countries such as the Netherlands and Germany, there are regulations determining that in a work situation, the staff must not be located further than six metres from a window. those situations where people work in entirely artificial conditions are liable to lead to ill health and absenteeism.
The passive Solar design is an aspect of building design in which the solar cycle is exploited in Winter to provide passive building heating for free. In essence, the heat of the Sun is ‘captured’ in Winter to provide building heat – so known as designing for solar gain.
The big win for the homeowner is that the cost of keeping the house comfortable is greatly reduced; no ‘active’ air cons etc are required. This also protects the owner from rising fuel costs in the future. Also, a Passive Solar designed house often has a better air quality and general ‘atmosphere’ than a traditional house as more light enters the property.
1. Aperture (Collector)
A large glass (window) area through which sunlight enters the building. Typically, the aperture(s) should face within 30 degrees of true South (or North if in the Southern hemisphere) and should not be shaded by other buildings or trees from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day during the heating season.
The hard, darkened surface of the storage element. This surface; which could be that of a masonry wall, floor, or partition (phase change material), or that of a water container; sits in the direct path of sunlight. Sunlight hits the surface and is absorbed as heat.
3. Thermal mass
The materials that retain or store the heat produced by sunlight. The difference between the absorber and the thermal mass, although often the same wall or floor, is that the absorber is an exposed surface whereas thermal mass is the material below or behind that surface.
The method by which solar heat circulates from the collection and storage points to different areas of the house. A strictly passive design will use the three natural heat transfer modes (conduction, convection, and radiation) exclusively. In some applications fans, ducts, and blowers may help with the distribution of heat throughout the house.
Roof overhangs can be used to shade the aperture area during Summer months. Other elements that control under and/or overheating include electronic sensing devices, such as a differential thermostat that signals a fan to turn on; operable vents and dampers that allow or restrict heat flow; low-emissivity blinds; and awnings.
A practical example of using Passive Solar
A typical passive solar house design would often have a large glass surface area on the South (or North if Southern hemisphere) building side in relation to the other sides. In those rooms with these large windows, you will often find tiling up to to the window and be extending back into the room by at least the height of the window.
This tiling is often directly mounted onto a concrete subfloor (i.e. slab), so providing the thermal mass for distribution. You might also find an uncovered brick feature wall perpendicular to the window to catch sunlight heat at the end or beginning of the day (when the sun is low in the sky). Control is often just simply roof eves of sufficient depth to shade the window in summer (as the sun is higher in the sky).
Inducing natural light into buildings is no easy task. The sun has a mind of its own – a one track mind and not all buildings face in that direction. Also, not every house is 90% glass or sits on top of a hill. The following are some solutions to various challenges.
|1. People like to look at the sun, allow them!|
|How orientation of a classroom toward the sun makes a difference.|
|From: The Architecture Handbook|
|2. Orientate building towards the Optimum flight of Sun|
|63.02° House by Schemata Architecture Office, Japan|
|We do love showing small modern houses and the Japanese excel at them; this one is interesting because the architects appear to have placed it on the lot so oddly and inefficiently, to site it exactly 63.02° from the road, apparently to open up the interior to more natural light.”This building is cut on the axis line inclined to a front road by 63.02°. The window in this building concentrates there. You can see the intersection by seeing the outside through the windows.”From: Treehugger|
|3. Let the light in, but keep the baddies out – Balancing Security with Natural Light|
|Open House, Singapore|
|The house is located in Singapore, on the East coast area and it is neighbored by four other urban buildings. The unusual design was chosen as a result of the owner’s “brief”: he wanted a house that could be as open as possible and yet not interfere with the notion of safety. The house is designed by Wallflower Architecture:From: Archithings, See more on Fresh Home|
|4. Too much glass and Steel? Engineering Natural Light Architecture into the existing elements|
|Mediatheque, Proville, France|
|Create a contemporary architecture dealing with the environment and the existing elements. The new spaces created are offering changing atmospheres and lighting effects due to large surfaces of glass and different partitions, patios and nice places where to take time to read, views on the church tower and the trees around.From: Urbantent|
|5. Prefabricated Adaptability|
|The Zero House by Scott Sprecht|
|Designed by Scott Specht, the Zero House able to generate its own electrical power by utilizing solar panels. And it also deploys a rainwater collection plane to collects its own water so doesn’t need electric pumps that consume much energy. Other features include an organic waste converter and automatic controller.The tubular steel frame of zeroHouse can withstand winds of up to 140 mph. The living modules feature flexible attachment points to the frame to allow for deflection and movement without damage. The solar panels are independently anchored and can detach in extreme wind conditions to prevent damage to the rest of the house. Exterior cladding panels are installed in a pressure-equalized rain screen configuration that minimizes the possibility of water penetration from driving rain.From: Zerohouse and kenmeffanarchitect|
|5. Bring Light to Difficult Places|
|Don’t Make Light When You Can Pipe it, Move it, and Bend it|
|The old Pennsylvania Station in New York not only had an amazing glass roof, but it had a glass floor to let light into the lower train platforms. It was called prism glass. The ceiling might have looked like this. Other buildings used vertical prisms to direct light deep into buildings. Frank Lloyd Wright even got a patent on the stuff. It was everywhere.Today there are all kinds of ways of piping natural light into your spaces, from the Solatube to the Parans fiber optic system from Sweden. There is also an interesting Australian system, Dayray. Big windows and high ceilings are the easiest way to go, but when you can’t put in a window, pipe it. Natural light changes color over the course of a day and your body clock looks for that, so working under natural light makes the day go faster. Needless to say, it also saves on energy. More: The Suntracker One-Ups the Skylight.You could use expensive fiber optics to move the light around, as we’ve seen at Treehugger before. Or you could just shunt the light into a highly reflective pipe, and pipe the light into your house. Light pipes are not a new thing, but advances in inexpensive, extremely reflective materials have recently made them more viable. The people at Solatube, for example, seem to have a really great system going.The cap of the light pipe redirects light straight into the tube no matter where the sun is, and then their proprietary reflective pipe transports the light into the interior will relatively little loss of light. At the end of the tube, a refractive lens or mirror spreads the light through the interior of the building. Their system has already been installed in factories, warehouses, retail stores and homes across America. No word on cost per installation, though I imagine it varies pretty widely. I sure would like to have one in this basement office.See them at: http://www.solatube.com/The system of pipes can also be turned vertically. Light comes in at the top of the building and Veronica Garcia-Hansen’s light meter measurements on her model show that plenty of light can reach up to five floors below. Veronica believes her design could reduce an office building’s energy consumption by half. Veronica Garcia-Hansen:
|6. Know the ways of the Sun|
|Building Orientation and Natural Light|
|Every day of the year, the sun takes a slightly different path. During winter the sun travels low in the sky. This allows sunlight to shine on south-facing walls and enter south-facing windows.In summer, the sun rises much higher, shining mostly on the roof. Overhangs shade south-facing walls and windows from the sun. Most of the sunlight striking windows at a high angle reflects off. But east and west surfaces are totally unprotected. The most severe problems occur on the west side, where the afternoon sun often causes severe overheating that drives up cooling costs. Just think how many times you’ve seen west facing windows covered with awnings, trellises, drapes and other sun blocking devices.Building OrientationIdeally, the long side of the house faces directly south and shorter sides face east and west. This arrangement captures heat and natural light in winter but minimizes unwanted summer heat gain.However, pointing the house up to 30 degrees to the east or west typically sacrifices only about 5 percent of the solar gain. Beyond about 45 degrees from the south, the benefits drop dramatically.Be especially careful if you shift house orientation to the west because you could increase cooling requirements.
Solar site design is easiest to apply to large lots, but it’s also possible in high-density developments. The best bet is to find a lot where the front or back of the house faces within 30 degrees of south. These are most commonly on streets that run east/west.
|7. No sun, well then you may need to cheat!!|
|Daylighting is one key to keeping our mental states balanced when we’re indoors, but sometimes it’s impossible to bring sunlight into interior places. Luckily, one innovative designer is experimenting with LED lights to create fake sunlight reflections on interior walls. Using over 3,000 LED lights, which give off the natural color of sunlight, Daniel Rybakken is designing lighting fixtures in the shapes of parallelograms, which give the impression of sunlight coming in through a window and reflecting off a surface. This light trickery, although totally artificial, might be just the thing to bring outdoor cheer into a gloomy indoor space.From: Inhabitat|
We should always try to architect natural light into our designs. We should never take daylight for granted. This is especially so when we are trying to reduce our dependence on carbon fossil-based electricity and when we need to calm down from our daily stresses (yes, sleep is useful!).
We also have another reason for not taking sunlight for granted. There was a time when one had to pay for the luxury. According to Vince Lewis, daylight Tax was introduced in 1696, it was officially called Window or Glass Tax in that a property owner or occupier was taxed on the number of windows in their building. It may seem very unfair but actually, it was seen as a tax on the rich and not on the poor. The larger the property with your wealth that you had, the more windows would be within it and the more Tax you were levied.
So the solution for many property owners and occupiers was to brick up the windows to save money. Many of these building can still be seen in the UK today like the examples above.
Read more about Passive Houses