Daylight comes slowly, and when it rains even more so it seems. The alcove we sleep in is on the east side of the building and has two windows allowing the first morning light to enter my sleep. In the summertime the morning sun tickles our faces, the winter sun never comes over the trees to touch the morningside of the studio.
I get up and move into the kitchen where the skylights light up the living space. I hear the rain drumming on the glass. If all windows were gone here the place would be perfectly lit up- if the skylights disappeared it would be dark in here. Daylight (and moonlight!) comes from the sky and if we can’t see the sky through the windows because of vegetation of other structures we don’t have natural light coming in.
If not for light, what are windows for? They are the eyes to the world around us: we like to see if there are clouds rolling in, like to know when visitors approach. Working near a window allows us to watch over the children playing outside. I like to be connected to others in the neighborhood just by seeing them out and about. Windows also become the beacon to go to: think of a dark night when you see the lit up windows of a house. They allow a sneak preview of the space you enter: especially in stores. A town is more interesting to walk through when stores show window displays and people sit in window niches of cafes and restaurants.
When trying to plan an energy conservative house we want to be careful with window placement and sizing. Here are a few tips:
- Know the site: understand and observe the sunpath and design the building accordingly for optimum daylighting
- Be selective and intentional about size: a window doesn’t need to be large to give view. A window that is close to the eye is like a lense. Try holding a small frame in front of you and notice the difference of area you can see by changing the distance to your eye.
- Learn about the different types of glazing
- Use Solar tubes for daylight in deeper spaces
- There’s not much to see low to the floor: unless you specifically receive solar gain on your floor (thermal mass floor) lift the glass area up!
- Light colors on the walls that are facing windows and on window reveals reflect light into your space.
- Light from two sides: better two small windows on different walls than one large one; this avoids glare and brings life
- If you’re down because the winter days are too short….go outside everyday during daylight hours. Even a few minutes make a difference.
See you out there!