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The Interior Design Reference & Specification Book by Mimi Love, Chris Grimley, Linda O'Shea

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13
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THE INTERIOR DESIGN REFERENCE + SPECIFICATION BOOK
Text
Chapter 13: Natural Light
Too often in interior practice, the quality of natural light is generally considered, but
not fully integrated into the design concept. Yet to control, channel, and lter natu-
ral light as it enters a space can be one of the most effective of design strategies.
Light can be a powerful component of an environment, given our innate tendency
to react to qualities of light in emotional and intuitive ways: Designers know that
orchestrating a sequence of spaces to end in a sun-lled room is sure to brighten
the mood of the occupants. Moreover, in practical terms, studies have shown that
natural lighting promotes productivity in the workplace and in academic environ-
ments. Beyond the poetic and functional benets of working with natural light, a
successful outcome requires its careful manipulation to avoid uncomfortable levels
of brightness, glare, and heat gain.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS
To design effectively with natural light, the designer needs to understand the solar orientation
of each room and the conguration and characteristics of the exterior environment adjacent to
each space. For example, a room whose windows face south may benet from a well-placed
tree that lters sunlight—especially a deciduous tree whose ltering properties change with
the season. At the same time, a north-facing room may benet from a wall or landscape
element that receives strong light from the south that then enters the interior as beautiful
bounced light.
SOLAR ORIENTATION AND FUNCTION
Anticipated activities in a space will determine how natural light should be controlled. South-
facing rooms have the best orientation for most functions since they admit the most consis-
tent sunlight throughout the day. By contrast, a room with north-facing windows allows only
diffused light to enter, making it an ideal location for an artists studio. For the same reason,
a north-facing room is also best for computers since it minimizes the potential for glare on the
monitor screens. If a computer room needs to face south, the designer will have to consider
window treatments as a central part of the design concept.
Window openings that face west receive late afternoon sun at a very low angle, an ideal condi-
tion for a dining room and/or living room, but window treatments will be required to cut down
on the glare caused by direct sunlight deeply penetrating the space. East-facing windows allow
early morning sun to enter, which is ideal for a breakfast nook or the coffee station in an of-
ce environment. The orientation of openings in a bedroom should inuence the selection of
window treatments, especially for windows that look east.
Seasonal Light
The altitude of the sun’s path is constantly changing and is at its lowest angle in winter and
its highest in summer. When the sun is low in the sky in winter, it allows more daylight and
heat to penetrate a space, while the opposite is true in summer. Ideally, a designer should
observe the changing daylight conditions of a space over the course of a year, paying close
attention to the amount of light and shade in the morning, at noon, and in the afternoon, as
the sun changes position in the sky from winter to summer. In lieu of direct observation, the
effect of natural light based on the sun’s movement can be predicted for any location and time
of year.
North:
West:
East:
South:
The angle of the sun is always
changing. Its highest angle is
reached on 21 June and its low-
est angle on 21 December.
Job:02-30056 Title: RP-Interior Design Reference and Specification
#175 Dtp:216 Page:214
(RAY)
212-217_30056.indd 214 3/4/13 7:51 PM

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