Walking to work last week after days of rain I was welcomed by a shaft of sunlight streaming through the rainforest. In contrast to the dark verdant foliage the rays not only lit up the delicate fern lying in it's path, my heart felt overwhelmed with joy.
At University I wrote an essay titled "in Praise of Light ". I was interested in the philosophy of Phenomenology in relation to the experience of Architecture, in particular how a space can influence the emotions of the person experiencing it.
The use of sunlight in Architecture is well documented. Typically places of worship used sunlight to represent the light of the divinity. Through the oculus of the single domed Pantheon in Rome to the Haggia Soffia in Instanbul, the power and the glory of the almighty is symbolised by the overwhelming experience
of daylight shaping the built form.
It can be uplifting and transformative through it’s physical appearance and symbolic meaning.
When considering how we design our projects it is always with sunlight in mind. From a sustainability / comfort consideration, sunlight is the natural way to heat a space passively. A well oriented living room that captures the Northern light in Winter requires less active heating, making good economic and evironmental sense. However, this is often overlooked now that HVAC systems are almost commonplace in a new home.
Even more effective in heating a space passively is with Thermal Mass, yet this can be quite costly and often very difficult to achieve with orientation and site constraints. Our first house project, the Courtyard House/ Five Dock House was designed to optimise thermal mass in an attempt to achieve a NATHERS rating of 8 stars, on a very tight budget. Sunlight is bought into all rooms of the house through the device of two paired courtyards.
The heat is retained in the concrete slab and concrete walls. The house stays cool in Summer and warm in Winter with no Air-conditioning. Given the many challenges faced designing this house it was a well deserving finalist in the Sustainability Awards 2014,
Where possible, we like to combine the principles of sustainability with a design that uses sunlight to also heighten the emotions and create an amazing sense of space. The Slot House and the Highlight House
are modest additions to Federation Semi-Detached houses intended to not only create a wonderfull connection to the rear gardens but to create a dramatic sense of space through the control of overhead daylight using skylights and clerestory windows.
Both projects were finalists in the 2015 and 2016 Sustainability Awards.
The houses of Japanese Architect Shunri Nishizawa in Vietnam interpret the cultural traditions in a subtle contemporary manner while introducing light and shadow to the rooms. The journey through the house becomes a spiritual experience influenced by Shintai, with connection to the exterior punctuated throughout the vertical levels with voids and internal gardens creating an incredible sense of space and privacy within the home.
We are exploring ways to introduce daylight and greenery into our new projects through subtle and diverse ways in the manner of Nishizawa Architects, elevating the daily rituals of living into celebrations of sunlight and the joy it brings.