Text: Mafalda Rangel

05. Dec 2010

Daylight as a point of departure for lighting design

I. High-Low!
Towards contemporary human needs

In a time where fifty percent of the world population is known to live in cities, it is time to rethink our urban living conditions. Technological development in the 90s gave rise to design tools that enabled us to create ideal artificial climatic environments indoors. Buildings were designed in the form of closed envelopes with a super-protection barrier between indoor and outdoor space. We believed that sealing the buildings using thick insulation and double-glazing would create optimal comfort zones for their users.
However, research has shown that closed envelopes produce various health problems affecting human performance. Contemporary developed societies wish to re-connect with natural conditions, or at least outdoor spaces. Either for working or living purposes, indoor spaces need to beat least optically if not practically linked with outdoor conditions. The old closed envelope requires perforation. It needs to be replaced by filters and veils that allow sun-light and the sky to be part of our daily life.

Research shows that the effect of daylight on human performance and productivity is unique and to date impossible to replicate. William McDonough shares the same opinion by posing the following question: “What if buildings were alive? What if our homes and workplaces were like trees, living organisms participating productively in their surroundings?” On the same line of thought, Realities United, an architects’ firm based in Berlin, has proposed an alternative concept to living in closed spaces. “Open the house!” is a research project on advanced climate clothing that allows the user to live comfortably in spaces where the temperature is far below or above what is normally considered acceptable. Both practices (McDonough and Realities United) propose a reality where the built and natural environments are accepted as a single coupled reality with the potential to improve our lifestyle. Acknowledging both environments as one living system will change architectural design. […]
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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 74

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