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Checklist for Designing with Natural Light

After all articles about natural light and the way to use it, here is a small checklist prepared, contains points to be taken and most needed questions to be asked while designing with natural light.

  1. Determination of the availability of natural light is very important. Make sure to check do sunny or overcast skies take over? Does the site have sources of reflected light or significant obstructions?

  2. Identifying the needs of the program: How big is the building? When is the light desired? Are the visual tasks vertical or horizontal?

  3. Choosing the strategy of the design. Base on resources and program needs, orientation of the buildings form and mass is essential to find the optimum light access, like two sides or more, top or atrium.


  4. Use design strategy effectively and make it a part of architecture. Remember Lois Kahn said: ‘Natural light is the only light makes architecture, architecture.’ Shape spaces to distribute light. Conserve light with efficient layouts and high reflectance surfaces, using narrow floor plans and tall ceilings are always useful.

  5. Checking and testing again and again. By drawing models and calculations, evaluate and refine your design.Look at the quality of the light and space created as well as the quantity. Make sure to find answers to the questions: Is glare effectively controlled? Is there too much light or not enough light? Is the light well distributed or are there dark shadows? How does the building perform at different times of the day and different weather conditions?

  6. Integrate with electric system. Creating a layout and switching strategy that complements the natural lighting system is necessary. Electric light should be switched off where natural light is sufficient.  
Skylights in O’hare International Airport, (Chicago, Illinois) create a bright cheerful combination of natural light, electric light and architectural space. (Murphy/Jahn Architects, Sylvan R Shemitz, Lighting Designer.)


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Sinem Erman

Sinem graduated in 2011 from Istanbul Technical University in Turkey with a BA in Interior Architecture and completed her MDes in Living and Interior Design at Domus Academy in 2013, she joined Planlux in 2018.