If you want to feel comfortable in a certain space, natural light is a must. Besides its health benefits, natural light also boosts our productivity.
The usage of natural lighting in interior spaces is often called “daylighting”. However, daylighting is not always easy. Sometimes it can be difficult to incorporate things like traditional windows in a certain space for either practical or aesthetic reasons, even though those windows bring the strongest direct or indirect sun rays.
In other words, the biggest problem with windows is their inability to control the quantity of light that will enter the space, which results in glare and the space heating up. However, there are some practical architectural solutions for controlling natural light so that it works for you. Take a look at these methods.
1. Light shelves
Light shelves are horizontal shelf-like elements usually positioned a little bit above the eye level on windows, so they can bounce outside light off their surface. In other words, light shelves reduce glare and distribute light more evenly – which doubles the depth and effectiveness of the incoming light.
Another great thing about light shelves is the fact they can be located on both the exterior and the interior, as well as on both sides at the same time. They can also be integral with the window itself, or be mounted onto the façade. Usually, the most effective way to display them is to put them on walls that face the sun’s path – which is the southern façade for the northern hemisphere and the northern façade for the southern hemisphere. However, even if you put them on west and east facades, while they maybe won’t effectively bounce the light into the space, they will still help reducing the glare and heat gain.
As the name implies, skylights are non-traditional windows that look up to the sky, usually placed on the roofs of buildings. Most often, they are fixed and cannot be opened and closed, but occasionally they are either operable or completely retractable. They are extremely effective when it comes to promoting natural light, especially in spaces that don’t have traditional windows.
However, their location means they are much more vulnerable to leaks and many other damages from falling debris and sunlight, and that it can be difficult to control the overall amount of sunlight that enters the space. In other words, you have to be smart. To avoid heat gain, make sure you correctly locate the skylight so that it is not in the sun’s direct path.
3. Glass doors
Another way of bringing more natural light into a space that is worth considering is to reduce furniture and solid doors that block light from passing through. If you replace solid doors with glass doors, light will travel from one area to another much easier. If you are an Aussie, you can find such high-quality bi-fold doors in Sydney for a fair price.
Of course, full-on transparent materials in doors isn’t appropriate for all spaces, but even things like frosted glass and translucent glass can provide your space with a surprising amount of light.
4. Sun tunnels
A tubular daylighting device, also known as sun tunnel, is similar to a skylight in terms of its location on the roof of the building. However, sun tunnels are in some way more high-tech since they are coated with reflective materials on the inside, and topped with clear plastic dome in order to draw as much light as possible, even though their surface area is small.
And while with skylights you may have some difficulties controlling the amount of incoming sunlight, sun tubes reduce glare themselves and screen infrared sun rays because of their glazing. This, in other words, means that they will reduce the heat gain and save your furniture from getting bleached too.
5. Clerestory windows
Non-traditional windows that have excellent daylighting AND ventilation benefits are clerestory windows. They are high up on the wall and above eye level. Because of their location, they will bring light and breeze into the space without having to compromise privacy. Ideally, they should be located on the sunny side of the building but still protected from the hard summer sun by louvers, rooflines, overhangs or other strategies. Also, they play a critical part in passive cooling, so their benefits are multifold.