Combined Side and Top Lighting

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Introduction

Endeavor Elementary School: Nampa, ID; Design West Architects: Image courtesy Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, University of Idaho
Barbara Morgan Elementary School: Nampa, ID; Design West Architects: Image courtesy Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, University of Idaho

Combined daylighting from the perimeter and from above is one of the best strategies to achieve a uniformly daylit space while also providing view. A balanced distribution of ambient illumination can be achieved by toplighting first and supplementing with sidelighting for daylight and a provision of view. In some cases, the toplighting strategy is the dominant daylight resource and the sidelighting may be almost exclusively about view, while in other applications, the space is designed to be illuminated mostly from the perimeter glass and the toplighting is just meant to provide some modest balance to at the back of the space.

Section Key Resources
  • New Buildings Institute, University of Idaho, University of Washington; Daylighting Pattern Guide, 2011
Links

Lead Author(s): Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg

Atria

Genzyme Headquarters, Cambridge, MA; Behnisch Architekten: Image courtesy Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, University of Idaho

An atrium can be a useful daylighting resource if designed properly. A good rule of thumb is that an atrium should be as wide as it is tall, and should not be expected to provide daylight into adjacent floor areas and deeper that 1-1.5 times that of the adjacent floor-to-ceiling depth. An atrium can have at least three distinct design intentions relative to daylight. The first is that they can provide useful ambient illumination to interior areas that would otherwise not have access to daylight. The rules of thumb given above apply to this design intention. However, given that the rules of thumb listed are often difficult to achieve, the other design intentions are also important to note. An atrium can provide important visual balance to the daylight provided from perimeter windows. The daylight provided to the vertical surfaces within an atrium can serve to balance the brightness from the perimeter glass and increase the overall perception of brightness within the occupied floor spaces adjacent to the atrium. Additionally, even if abundant useful daylight is not provided from an atrium, it can provide an important ‘sense of daylight’ and connection to the outdoors.

Section Key Resources
  • New Buildings Institute, University of Idaho, University of Washington; Daylighting Pattern Guide, 2011
Links

Lead Author(s): Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg

Sunlight Collection and Redirection

Genzyme Headquarters, Cambridge, MA; Behnisch Architekten: Images courtesy Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, University of Idaho
Genzyme Headquarters, Cambridge, MA; Behnisch Architekten: Images courtesy Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, University of Idaho

“A mirror mounted on a heliostat can track the sun and reflect a vertical beam of light through the roof regardless of the sun angle. Because the sunlight enters a building at a constant angle, it can be easily and effectively controlled. When large mirrors mounted on heliostats are used to light whole sections of a building, the technique is known as beamed daylighting.” This technique was employed at the Genzyme Headquarters in Cambridge, MA. The image on the left shows two sets of mirrors. The leftmost mirrors track the position of the sun in both altitude and azimuth (tilt and rotation) and redirect the sunlight toward a second set of mirrors that in turn direct the light into a large atrium space. Two sets of mirrors are used so that the first set of mirrors (leftmost) can stay as ‘normal’ to the beam of direct sun as possible, thus collecting as much solar resource as possible and bouncing it to the second set of mirrors. The image on the right shows the roof of the atrium. At the top is the glass enclosure and at the bottom is a set of lightweight louvers that can be used to control and diffuse direct sun.

Section Key Resources
  • Lechner, Norbert. Heating, Cooling, Lighting 2nd Edition: Design Methods for Architects. 2001 John Wiley & Sons.
Links
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Lead Author(s): Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg

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