Daylighting: The Future of Architecture

Daylighting design strategies pertain to managing the admittance of natural light in the form of direct or diffused sunlight into a home or building. With the strategic use of skylights, windows, and glass block, artificial lighting requirements can be reduced without compromising heating and cooling capability.

Scientists and sociologists have proven that the presence of natural light improves human morale and attitude while enhancing individual performance. With continually changing angles and patterns, natural light tends to create a more invigorating and appealing environment.

Even the ancient Chinese recognized the importance of the right lighting. Light is energy, and the Art of Feng Shui pertains to creating the right amount and balance of natural energy within a home or office. Daylighting supports sustainability and energy conservation initiatives. Admitting natural light can reduce the demand for artificial lighting by at least one-third in any space, a significant cost component of any large structure.

Daylighting and Employee Performance

According to a June 2013 Psychology Today article, one Northwestern University study determined that office workers’ sleep, productivity, and quality of life are detrimentally affected by working continually in an environment that is void of natural light. Derived from a study by the National Institute of Health, a 2014 CNN report reports that the physical advantages of exposure to natural light are:

  • Enhanced desire to exercise
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase likelihood of laughter
  • Enhanced alertness
  • Stronger ongoing communication

Challenge of Designing with Natural Light

Abundant natural light throughout the area plus secure and private living and work spaces might seem like contradictory concepts. Standard windows, of course, are an option for admitting natural sunlight into perimeter spaces. However, designs must place windows in carefully situated locations to reduce the potential for direct glare on work surfaces and into individuals’ eyes. Shades and blinds may be needed to mitigate this risk.

Interior rooms, offices and cubicle areas, as well as internal home spaces, will enjoy virtually none of the benefits of natural light. Unless the area consists of one large room with few partitions, artificial lighting remains the only answer to provide sufficient illumination for individual privacy within a working environment.

According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, the most significant challenge to creating a building design that introduces substantial natural lighting is in maintaining privacy and physical security for the occupants. While standard wall paneling does provide plenty of privacy and blocks out sound to a significant degree, lighting in interior spaces must be purely artificial. Alternative approaches include transoms, transparent glass walls, and even skylights. But these have limitations in the amount of light admitted, preservation of privacy, or infeasibility in a multistory building.

Using Glass Block Walls

By taking an integrated design approach to distribute as much natural light as possible to enhance productivity and reduce utility costs, many architects and interior designers are adding state-of-the-art glass block to the interior and exterior wall designs. The result:

  • Natural light throughout
  • Privacy
  • Soundproof partitioning
  • Added interest and beauty to interior spaces

Energy Conservation and Sustainability of Daylighting

Just as wind and solar power are sustainable resources for driving our utilities, balanced natural light is an essential resource for providing light to work and living areas. Daylighting is an efficient way to reduce utility costs for lighting and heating while creating a more productive environment.

According to Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, energy used for lighting commercial buildings is typically 35-50% of the total electrical cost. Furthermore, Architecture 2030 states that 47.6% of electrical energy used in the United States is consumed in buildings while 24.4% is used in industry.

The path of the sun is highly predictable. As architects plan new buildings, they account for the positioning of the building relative to the sun’s arc and can employ daylighting strategies to reduce costs. Equipment such as light controlled sensors will automatically brighten or dim artificial lighting in individual areas to maintain consistent and sufficient lighting within.

Glass block provides daylight without sacrificing sound control, security, and privacy.

The Glass Block Solution

Architects who are committed to daylighting solutions must consider factors including the building’s site, local climate, windows, skylights, lighting types and controls and the interior layout. To maximize daylighting, many forward-thinking designers are adding modern glass block as windows and as partitions between offices and work areas. Translucent glass block walls allow natural light without sacrificing privacy.

Designers around the world have been creating award-winning structures with glass block as the primary exterior building material. SEVES GLASS BLOCK has supplied the materials and collaborative design ideas for several of the world’s most important contemporary public buildings. These structures, like the University of Deusto Library in Bilbao and the Maison Hermes in Tokyo, are built with exteriors almost entirely from SEVES glass block. These stunning structures allow natural light to pass through their exterior glass block surfaces without revealing the activity within.

In addition to the stunning exteriors of these modern buildings, the interior space is well-lit with a magical ambiance of colorful light refractions. Glass blocks can be smooth, wavy, frosted, or even three-dimensional to permit natural light efficiently.

SEVES GLASS BLOCK, headquartered in the Czech Republic in an area know for its glass production, is a world-class, award-winning designer and producer of creative glass block and brick. SEVES is a leading force in the development of glass block products as innovative, daylighting products. Available in a wide range of artistically inspired colors, textures, and shapes, SEVES glass products are leading the way globally in the use of these products for home and commercial use.

Advantages of Glass Block for Home or Office

Sales of glass block products are expected to increase by 7% CAGR between 2018 and 2022 due to the broad scope of aesthetic, energy saving, and physical benefits of the product. This demand growth is a result of advantages offered by glass block products for interior and exterior use. Some of these are:

  • Beauty and style
  • Enhanced working and living environment
  • Sense of nature
  • Health benefits of natural light
  • Energy reduction
  • Enhanced color brilliance
  • Long-term durability
  • Noise suppression
  • Insulating properties
  • Fire resistance
  • Security
  • Improved artificial lamp life

SMART HOME Solutions

Daylighting makes as much sense for residences as for commercial buildings. Upgrading the natural feel of the home, reducing energy costs, and brightening rooms and attitudes is all possible with the use of high-quality glass block products.

For information and ideas regarding the use of glass block for daylighting strategies in homes and commercial buildings, visit SEVES’ website to view the colorful and Smart Home imaginative gallery of options.