10 Typologies of Daylighting: From Expressive Dynamic Patterns to Diffuse Light - architecture and design

10 Typologies of Daylighting: From Expressive Dynamic Patterns to Diffuse Light

Sunlight has proven to be an excellent formgiver, with which architecture can create dynamic environments. The lighting design pioneer William M.C. Lam (1924-2012) emphasized in his book ?Sunlighting as Formgiver? that the consideration of daylight is about much more than energy efficiency. Architects have now found numerous ways of implementing sunlight and the questions arises whether a coherent daylight typology could be a valuable target during the design process. However, many daylight analyses focus mainly on energy consumption.

© Philippe Ruault

Sunlight has proven to be an excellent formgiver, with which architecture can create dynamic environments. The lighting design pioneer William M.C. Lam (1924-2012) emphasized in his book ?Sunlighting as Formgiver? that the consideration of daylight is about much more than energy efficiency. Architects have now found numerous ways of implementing sunlight and the questions arises whether a coherent daylight typology could be a valuable target during the design process. However, many daylight analyses focus mainly on energy consumption.Siobhan Rockcastle and Marilyne Andersen, though, have developed a thrilling qualitative approach at EPFL in Lausanne. Their interest was driven by the spatial and temporal diversity of daylight, introducing a matrix with 10 shades of daylight.Above: Renderings of 10 typological Models from high spatial contrast and temporal variability to low spatial contrast and variability. Image © Siobhan Rockcastle, Marilyne AndersenObserving daylight, we encounter the possibility of two extremes: direct sunlight, with clear blue skies and the diffuse cloudy sky as a counterpoint. They both lead to very different feelings and associations. Direct sunlight creates an intense modelling with harsh shadows and its direction during the course of the day has a major impact. Hence, our environment seems to be very diverse with the duality of light and shadow. Simultaneously the brightness of the blue sky has a very activating effect on us - which is why many people spend their holidays at destinations that guarantee sunshine in order to seek happiness.
Matrix showing spatial contrast and temporal variability for 60 architectural spaces. Horizonatl axis from high spatial contrast and temporal variability to low spatial contrast and variability. Image © Siobhan Rockcastle, Marilyne Andersen

But when clouds appear and fill the sky, the brightness decreases significantly and we lose the modelling due to the lack of clear shadows. Subsequently we encounter a dimmed situation of uniformity and calm. Such conditions settle our mind because we are not stimulated by diverse and dynamic surroundings.

© Philippe Ruault

Within the EPFL research study Siobhan Rockcastle and Marilyne Andersen analysed numerous examples of contemporary architecture with regard to the spatial and temporal variability of daylight. Their conclusion led finally to a typological c...
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