Back in the day when I was designing buildings instead of managing projects, I really enjoyed the task of getting light into the building. Most of the time this was just a form of decoration. But when i could make it more integral to the design, that was especially gratifying.
I found a number of ways to make windows more than just a 'punched' opening - although there was plenty of that, too. Here are some examples to show what I mean.
Really Big Windows
This is a one story office lobby in front of a 400' long x 36' high manufacturing building. The scale issue seemed to want something bigger than was really needed. There are six windows, each measuring 7' x 12' and containing just one piece of glass in each. This was comfortably below the maximum size of 96 square feet. : )
One story buildings are a challenge to make look attractive. "When you don't have anything, add angles." That's the solution here. The windows occurred (most of the time) where the walls changed planes. Small windows were requested so that: "The kids don't break in and steal the typewriters."
Remember Classroom Pods
Classroom pods were tricky. The Dept. of Ed. wants four classrooms worth of chalk and tack boards, but there's a lot less wall to put them on. There go your windows. Each pod got its own recessed exit so that some glass could be inserted.
Reaaallly Long Window
This 250' long college maintenance building didn't really need any windows. But where's the fun in that. The roof joists are bottom bearing. The glass is butt-glazed 1/4" float that is held in place by continuous structural neoprene gaskets top and bottom. Continuous 1/4" stainless steel bent plates hold the gaskets.
I have featured this skylight before. It really added a much needed aesthetic feature to the centrally located lobby of this court room building. The drywall 'beams' enclose roof trusses. Details can be seen here.
Passive Solar Inspiration
Librarians hate natural light. Well, maybe they just like wall space more. To maximize the light but minimize the glare, the top windows slope inwards at 45 degrees to increase the overhang effect so that the glass is shaded during the six brightest/warmest months of the year.
You may have noticed that glass block rarely looks very good. Well it just needs some curves and dimensions. This is a warehouse building stair enclosure with office space adjacent. You can see how it was detailed here.
Bringing light into a space from above is always a crowd-pleaser. In this case a lobby space at the transition from two to three stories made this serendipitous.
Plants As Window Shades
This group of hawthorns provide shade for these south-facing windows during the hot time of the year and miraculously drop their leaves in time for winter. Passive solar was a big deal back in the day.
We had designed three or four additions and remodelings for this Candy Maker before their parent company in Holland made it clear that they wanted an "environmental showcase" here in the States. This was three years before the first LEED pilot program. Our solution was to convene a charrette to find out what to do. We found five participants who had a reputation for green design. A week later we had considered about 30 green initiatives. Ten main items were implemented.
The picture at the top of this post and the one below show two of the roof monitors. The "vanes" were designed to obstruct direct light from entering the building while bouncing the incident light inside indirectly. Details of the design are here.
Energy modeling of the project showed that the Geothermal HVAC, Daylighting and High Efficiency Lighting were responsible for the main reductions in energy use - in that order.
I am sure you could add more to this list. This Design Matrix shown above is my idea for brainstorming how natural lighting could be used all through a project. List your preferred natural lighting techniques on the left, your building's spaces across the top and place a checkmark or a keyed note at the intersection of space and technique. Download a zip file with PDF, XLS, and NUMBERS versions.
Natural Lighting adds value to projects in both direct and indirect ways. And it is fun to work out.
Don't underestimate the fun.
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