Whether you’re creating a living or working space you will want the results of your design to be inviting and comfortable within the context of the space. Too frequently, when we think about lighting a space we think only about light which we add. Natural daylight is preferred by most people, is enlivening, and can ease the drain associated with some work environments.

Usage and Environment
Initially, there is nothing more critical to consider than the specific use of the space. When designing a space for work, where will people be facing, and what will they be doing? Will daylight overpower their computer screens, and make it difficult to see. How would inconsistencies in weather, and available daylight, affect the use of the space. Will you need to be able to “turn the daylight off” for presentations, or for children’s naps? If your facility is large, will daylight controls beyond the cords on a set of blinds be needed? Many daylight apertures can be regulated, others — like domed skylights — may require some engineering to become variable.

Distribution and Variance through the Day
Daylight, unlike electrical fixtures, moves on its own through the day. Let’s say you have a conference room with an east-facing window. It may prove helpful for enriching morning meetings, but make sure that furniture is arranged such that the board chair doesn’t end up sitting in a deep shadow while the other half of the room is well lit when you have a meeting which begins at noon. This kind of consideration may seem simple until you begin to take into account major reflective surfaces, like other buildings, outside of the space which you have control over the design of.

Consider how variance in daylight will affect concentrations of light, and how those lighting concentrations will affect and direct attention at various times. Consider how introspective people can seem to get on a cloudy day. There is less of a sharpness to the world around them, so their external focus flags. This may lead you to want your coffee shop to have a large north-facing window under a tree or a retail area with plenty of supplemental lighting so that your wares are always bright and attention holding.

Glare and Reflections
Design your daylighting solution from the large down to the small details. How will the colors of your major surfaces reflect daylight, and how will they reflect your electrical lighting? Do any surfaces, electronics, or furnishings create problematic reflections at any time of day?

If you’ve looked at your space and asked yourself plenty of these questions then you are well on your way to including daylighting in your design, pleasantly and effectively. We hope this overview will prove sufficient for most casual interest.

 

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