How to Use Light in Building Design – Benefits of Using Natural Light in Your Building

It doesn’t matter what kind of building you are designing, light will play a defining role in the overall character and experience of that building.

The use of natural light can be the most powerful tool an architect can leverage. Used correctly, natural light allows you to change how a space is used. Modern architecture and design have challenged traditional building features that limit or burden spaces and lighting is often a key element of this.

Natural light will impact everything in a space; from emotion and psychology to productivity and vision. Light, in this regard, must be one of the 1st things you consider in building design.

For retail businesses, this is paramount. The ability to influence customer emotions and happiness through natural light is surely something that will benefit your business. It may not be something you’ve considered, but building design may be linked more closely to your revenue potential than you ever thought.

Here at NORclad, we’ve been able to utilise glass windows and clever design within timber cladding to create spaces and buildings that can utilise all the benefits of natural light. From energy efficiency to brightening up a space, it allows us to enhance the true potential of a building and create spaces that are functional and attractive. It allows us to take advantage of space, textures, colours and shapes within a building.

So, what kind of things can you do to leverage natural light in your building?

Windows

Windows have always been a fundamental part of buildings. They are the perfect tool for bringing in natural light into a room or space.

However, they are often underutilised or located in the wrong places. This means they often don’t create all the benefits of natural lighting to a room. Some areas can be too bright and hot, while other areas never see any daylight. This can have a huge impact on how a space is used. A room could look amazing on paper, but in reality, the way the lighting impacts it, will play a significant role in how people perceive that space. Amazing spaces can be ruined by a lack of natural light.

When thinking of window placement and size, think about what you’re trying to achieve in each room and space. Don’t think every window in a building needs to be the same size and shape. You may what to have some windows located high to allow lots of light to flood into a space. You may also want to include windows in certain angles to frame or reveal certain features on the outside of the building.

Thinking about the position of the sun and how it’ll move around a building is a key step into deciding where to locate windows. You want to be able to follow the sun around and bring in as much sunlight as possible.

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Skylights

Skylights allow natural light to come into a space from above. They are a great tool and offer a range of features to explore.

Ambient skylights will allow as much light into a space as possible. They are wide and are useful to locate in a position that will yield the most natural light. Focal skylights aim to bring in much less light. They aim to focus the lighting on a certain area. This is very useful for creating depth, or character to a space. An example of focus lighting might be to draw in light on a desk, or table, so it is lighter and brighter than the surrounding areas. Feature skylights allow architects to emphasis and draw attention to certain features in the building. Bouncing light off a feature wall could make all the difference in how people engage with it. Feature skylights and lighting that focuses on certain features is a great way to control how people see each part of building.

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Shading and Reflective Surfaces

Although this article is all about utilising natural light, the ability to create contrasts of dark spaces can be hugely effective in your efforts to create the perfect building. The ability to reflect and bounce light in certain directions will also mean you have more say on how a building is experienced.

Shading devices and things that limit and control the flow of natural light can be very effective at impacting how natural light comes into a space. Sometimes a slight angled surface that bounces the morning sun onto another wall can suddenly transform the overall look and feel of a space.

This ability to shade and reflect light is also important to help ensure every space can be fully utilised. If the sun is shining directly in someone’s eyes, it may be just as limiting as if the space was dark. Understanding how to spread the light around will ensure every part of a room can be enjoyed.

Artificial Lighting

The ability to connect natural light with artificial lighting helps to impact the overall character of a room. To get the most out of a space, position and use artificial lighting to solve any lighting issues that couldn’t be resolved with natural lighting. You want to avoid having artificial lights doing the same job as natural lighting so ensure the two are thought about in advance.

Artificial lighting under furniture for example, is something that may not be possible with natural lighting but could be important to the overall look and feel of a space.

Character

The best way to use natural light in a space is to think about what you want that space to be used for. Some spaces, such as lobbies, or living rooms, are perfect for flooding with as much light as possible. Other spaces, such as bathrooms and bedrooms, might want to think about how best to create the desired character of that space with lighting.

The aim of using natural light in building design can also impact the flow of air and sound too. Lots of windows that can open mean the flow of air and exterior sound will impact the space.

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Building Design and NORclad

Our focus here at NORclad has always been on helping our clients create the best possible buildings they can. The use of natural light is something that we’ve seen as one of the most powerful tools in creating the desired character and personality to a building.

With our specialist knowledge and skills in timber cladding, we have created buildings that leverage beautiful timber alongside glass windows and features within the timber to showcase the true potential of a building.

The ability to combine an exterior building material like timber cladding, with features that draw in natural light is how an ordinary building turns into a loved home or an amazing commercial property.

If you’d like us to help show you how to get the most out of natural lighting and building design then get in contact with us today.