Architects can help you think more deeply about the spaces you want to design. Architect and member of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects, Philip Frizzell of Robinson Frizzell Architects has these tips on the importance of natural daylight.
We live in an era dominated by ways of improving our health, wellbeing and mindfulness. As the indoor generation, we spend the greatest proportion of our time inside buildings. Our homes have potential to reinvigorate our spirits and relax our bodies.
Scientific studies in recent decades have shown that optimal house design can improve how we work, sleep and function. The right living conditions can promote physical and mental health and help prevent long-term illnesses such as asthma, allergies, diabetes and depression.
Healthy homes are a product of a number of different indoor parameters such as temperature, humidity and air quality all crucial for our comfort, but perhaps the biggest contributory factor for our wellbeing is having the correct amount of natural daylight.
We all operate and function controlled by our inner bodily clock - a daily cycle of activity and sleep known as our circadian rhythm. Natural light levels of day and night maintains this order, regulating hormones and other brain chemicals that govern many of our bodily functions and immune system. Many people suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or winter depression brought on by insufficient daylight.
Apart from its health benefits, daylight, is required to reveal our surroundings. Light and materials are mutually dependant, determining each other. We see things when light is reflected off them. The consequences for home design are immense.
Since childhood we have grown up thinking that houses should have standard sized, equally spaced windows and have a front and a back door. Looking at many speculative housing developments this perception of what a house should be still gets reinforced in our minds, but well-designed architectural homes are different.
Architects organise rooms and spaces within a home to receive optimal natural daylight in response to the sun’s daily progression around the house. They employ windows and modern energy efficient glazing of all shapes and sizes, in locations to either let daylight flood in, capture a view or bring the outside exterior space into the home.
Sources of light are introduced overhead, through walls, ceilings, or even floors. Large paned openings or simple glazed slits let natural daylight animate space and create beautiful indoor environments, great to occupy and feel happy and healthy in.
Good architects have learned how to both introduce and restrict daylight to reveal and contrast materials in the creation of great space. Certain rooms like bedrooms and bathrooms may require a more subdued level of light. Solar shades, shutters and blinds are all employed to control lighting levels and internal comfort. Great architecture, like great photography is all about effectively capturing daylight.
Equally importantly in this age of climate change, the provision of sufficient natural daylight in a home has become an important requirement in saving energy. Effective day lighting means less reliance on electricity to provide artificial lighting while sunlight can contribute towards meeting some of the heating needs through controlled passive solar gain.
A recently completed project illustrates how natural daylight has been introduced by various means to create a bright, airy interior space that is both healthy and pleasant to live in.
If you would like to discuss your project, more information can be found at www.rsua.org.uk or www.robinsonfrizzell.co.uk