Sources of Natural Light; Sunlighting Strategies

The sun is a powerful source of light. Properly used in building design, sunlight can be energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing. However, if not carefully designed, building may overheat, be too bright or have a poor distribution light.
For all designs, the preliminary goal is to provide illumination for visual activities and visual delight. With sunlight, the basic design strategy is to use the sunlight indirectly. Sunlighting design also should be integrated with architecture.

There are 5 design strategies to promote the effective use of sunlight.

1.Shade; Shade building openings to control to glare and excessive heat gain due to direct sunlight. North-south openings tend toward a lower, horizontal illumination which lights vertical surfaces well.
2.Redirect; Redirect sunlight to where it needs. The right distribution of illumination is the essence of good lighting, therefore it is even more important with sunlight. It is undesirable to have the area near the window over illuminated while the rest of the room is under illuminated.

    The light from the sun, should be spread over a large area to optimize the balance of brightness. This has additional benefit minimizing the contrast in the room.
3.Efficiency, we can use light more efficiency by shaping the interior and using high-reflectance interior building surfaces.This will help better distribute light and will reduce the total amount of light that needs to be admitted.
4.Integrate; Integrate forms for sunlighting with architecture. When an opening for sunlight does not provide a view or fill an essential role in the architectural design, the opening is likely to be blocked with drapes or other obstructions.
5.Control; We must control the amount of light entering space. Provide the amount of light required, at the time it is desired. No more, no less.

So, what can be used to control natural light? With technological improvements everyday, we have many options. Such as; light shelves integrated to building control system, glass facade and blind/louvre systems, prismatic glass panels, spectral selective glazed glass and photochromic glass usage, also filtering alternatives can be used to balance the natural light indoors.

Sunlight is a must in architecture. We should try to find the balance, make sure to get the maximum use out of it, practice these strategies so design process can benefit from it in the best way possible.

Follow us on our next article “Light Distribution of Luminaires”.



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.