Lighten Up

When it comes to architectural design trends (particularly those involving glass) one that we hear talk of quite often is daylighting. Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate building spaces; it brings indirect, natural light into the building and reduces the need for electric lighting, while connecting occupants to the outdoors.

However, successful daylighting design also brings with it a number of considerations; no one wants to work around excessive glare or heat, right?

So, the goal is to maximize daylight, while minimizing comfort, and window placement is essential. South- and north-facing windows, as an example, enhance daylighting, as they offer relatively stable daylight conditions throughout the day.

Also a consideration, daylight does not typically spread its benefits across a building. For example, those near a window may receive an abundance of daylight, while those further away often go without. What to do? Skylights or light tubes can help illuminate central areas of a top floor; vertical façades can benefit from light shelves integrated into the window system or horizontal louvers that redirect daylight to the ceiling and deep into the interior.

There are also a variety of glass types that can be helpful. These can include insulating glass with thermal performance features and low-E coatings that reflect infrared thermal radiation but look clear. In addition, advanced glazing options, such as dynamic electrochromic glass, can be adjusted to either a clear or tinted state with the push of a button.

While daylighting may still be a relatively new concept, it is growing as a design trend—not surprising since so many people have a desire to connect with the outdoors and even more want to reduce their use of electric lighting.

How often do you design buildings with daylighting in mind or is this a new concept for you? Either way, you can learn more about it in an upcoming issue of the Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal when we feature a closer look at daylighting, so stay tuned.