Here is a question for you………: Is light the single most important feature that affects your mood in your home? If it is then is it therefore the most important mood factor in your house altogether: daylight, glass walls, light wells, skylights and artificial light and………., the big one in Spain, shade.
We all instinctively know that lots of natural light makes us feel better. Studies have shown that daylight makes us healthier, more productive, more energetic, and can even affect your appetite. Furthermore the human eye has evolved using daylight and its full colour spectrum. Daylight gives us contact with the outside world, weather variation, the passage of the day, and the changing of the seasons. No other source of light is the same. In designing your home we must pay a great deal of attention to natural light.
Most of the villas we design have shaded glass walls to the sea with the views looking out from the hub of the house across the inside / outside terrace and the pool to the views. The configuration is determined by many things such as the site, orientation, our client’s preferences and budget.
Here are some principals and possibilities in the lighting tool kit:
Window placement and sizing: this will vary with the building’s orientation which will be partly a function of aspect, partly of topography and partly depend on the level of energy efficiency we are aiming at.
Window shape: tall windows increase the depth of daylight penetration in to the room. Wide windows increase the spread of daylight across the room.
Avoidance of unwanted solar gains: this is a big one in the summer under the Andalusian sun. You do not want an unshaded south facing window because the inside will overheat regardless of the technology in the windows and the air conditioning.
Perhaps even worse is a large unshaded west facing window. As the sun lowers in the sky in the evening no amount of overhead shading can block it. It has to be blocked by a wall / tree / shutter.
Views and aspect: To be clear you do want to capture the best views and the best solar orientation is south.
They key is to control the sun so you have it when you want and not when you don’t and there are many ways of doing this. A retractable awning on a deep terrace is one.
Light shelves that reflect light into the building: These are more common in offices but maybe be worth considering depending on the circumstances.
Louvres can be a lovely way to control the light and provide subtle dappled shading depending on the style. They can obstruct views though.
Skylights, or horizontal windows, face the brightest part of the sky and let in three times as much daylight as the equivalent in vertical glazing. They are great for corridors and internal rooms that have roofs. They are less likely to be shaded by external obstructions such as trees.
A light well is a vertical duct through a building to provide daylight to lower levels. Light wells can also provide ventilation.
Light pipes: A light pipe can use a mirror and reflect the light down to a basement. Light pipes (or sun tubes) use a mirror at the top to direct the sunlight down the tube (or fibre optic) to a diffuser at the bottom.
Interior finishes: Bright surface finishes will reduce the need for artificial lighting and when designing lighting layouts it is worth ensuring that task lighting or mood lighting are considered separately.
Glare is the discomfort or interference with vision caused by bright objects appearing in the field of view. Glare occurs as a result of how the eye adapts to its visual environment. As they fall upon a large bright window it will see luminance’s near to the bright day end of the scale Too much light will enter the eye and discomfort or silhouetting of objects of interest will occur.
Author: Eco Vida Homes is a team of Architects, Technical Architects, Builders, an Engineer, and a Chartered Surveyor. We help people design and build beautiful energy efficient home, designed for Mediterranean livin, in Marbella and Southern Spain. There are two things that make us stand out: a sharp focus on our clients’ needs and everything we build is comfortable and energy efficiency………..It’s like Grand Designs………… only without the drama.