The benefits of natural light

Natural lighting - Peckham Industries manufacturing facility

Natural lighting - Peckham Industries manufacturing facility

WBDG provides a useful synopsis of daylight.

1. The benefits of daylight
2. Daylighting concepts
3. Design recommendations

‘In large measure, the art and science of proper daylighting design is not so much how to provide enough daylight to an occupied space, but how to do so without any undesirable side effects. It involves more than just adding windows or skylights to a space. It is the careful balancing of heat gain and loss, glare control, and variations in daylight availability.’

For an appraisal of how natural light has been used by modern and contemporary architects consider Henry Plummer’s The Architecture of Natural Light, which was published at the end of 2009.

It considers seven qualities of natural light – evanescence, procession, veils of glass, atomisation, canalisation, atmospheric silence and luminescence – and has over 50 case studies from around the world.

For more examples try these resources:

1. Museums
Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico is a good example of a building that wanted daylight, but not direct sunshine, for the interior. It uses hybrid lighting with one-half electric and one-half natural light.

2. Hospitals
There is increasing evidence that access to windows and light provides benefits to staff and patients in hospitals, and because of this it is now a mainstream design consideration.

‘ … that exposure to light helps in reducing depression, alleviating pain, and improving sleep and circadian rhythms among patients and, thus, supports the healing process.’

‘ … found that patients recovering from abdominal surgery recovered faster, had better emotional well-being, and required fewer strong pain medications if they had bedside windows with a nature view (looking out onto trees) than if their windows looked out onto a brick wall.’

And a summary on the new Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.

3. Schools
Kingsmead Primary School in Cheshire is a flagship project for sustainable design and construction innovation. A key part of the design is the natural lighting, which means that even on overcast days no artificial lights need to be switched on.

4. Manufacturing facilities
A piece on the benefits of natural light in manufacturing settings, and a case study of Peckham Inc. where 98% of the 191,000 square foot (17,700 square metres) workspace has natural light.

5. Prisons
The positive impact of ‘borrowed light’ on staff and inmate attitudes, as well as the reduction in construction and operational costs, at King County Regional Justice Center in Washington state, USA.

ESI references:


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