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Adaptive architecture: the next big thing in daylight engineering

Inspired by hybrid indoor climate solutions, the next generation of facades will respond to shifts in temperature and brightness levels to balance light transmittance, solar gain and insulation

In association with
Designing for maximum daylight with Velfac slim-framed windows.
Designing for maximum daylight with Velfac slim-framed windows.

Controlling daylight in a building involves enhancing the flow of natural light to achieve an ideal indoor climate.

It means designing spaces where daylight is encouraged, ventilation is improved, harmful emissions reduced and noise pollution kept to a minimum.

It requires harnessing technical expertise and aesthetic skill.

Glass specification: how architects can balance daylight and solar gain

Daylight delivers multiple benefits, from free heat to better health, but it must not be compromised by overheating, an issue made more relevant by recent record-breaking summer temperatures.

The impact of solar gain can be mitigated by strategic window design, in terms of size, location and facade distribution, and by glass specification.

Modern architectural glass delivers impressive functionality which, together with a wide range of coatings, can support the ideal flow of energy and light into a room.

Composite window and door brand Velfac has produced a performance guide called 'More Daylight, Less Heat' [PDF] that compares the benefits - and compromises - of different glass types.

The guide advises specifiers on how to achieve the ideal balance between light transmittance, solar gain and insulation.

'We need to understand how to orchestrate the inflow of light in relation to the reflective surfaces within a room. The skill of the architect is needed to create the desired atmosphere based on the prevailing lighting conditions.'
'We need to understand how to orchestrate the inflow of light in relation to the reflective surfaces within a room. The skill of the architect is needed to create the desired atmosphere based on the prevailing lighting conditions.'

The future of the facade: daylight and adaptive architecture

Ellen Kathrine Hansen is one of Denmark’s leading daylight experts and head of research at the Lighting Design Lab at Aalborg University in Copenhagen. She believes that modern architecture must adapt to the dynamics of daylight to meet the demand for more natural light.

This means encouraging architects to design more flexible and responsive facades that can interact with changing daylight conditions. 

‘In terms of architectural design, we now expect to see facades becoming more dynamic and able to respond to the variability of daylight,’ she says.

‘This must be a priority - to create facades that can regulate the intensity and direction of natural light while optimising views and residents’ interactions with their surroundings.’  

  • Lilla Fjellsholmen by Cream Architects.
    Lilla Fjellsholmen by Cream Architects.
  • Lilla Fjellsholmen by Cream Architects.
    Lilla Fjellsholmen by Cream Architects.
  • Spanarvägen by Markus Ravegård Architecture.
    Spanarvägen by Markus Ravegård Architecture.
  • Spanarvägen by Markus Ravegård Architecture.
    Spanarvägen by Markus Ravegård Architecture.
  • Ellen Kathrine Hansen: dynamic architectural design comparable to hybrid indoor climate solutions - where internal and external sensors are used to control and combine natural and artificial ventilation - is a must.
    Ellen Kathrine Hansen: dynamic architectural design comparable to hybrid indoor climate solutions - where internal and external sensors are used to control and combine natural and artificial ventilation - is a must.
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Maximising views without compromising indoor climate: 2 case studies

Two Swedish homes have delivered a masterclass in daylight control, where a combination of technical and design-led solutions meet performance targets and architectural vision. 

  • New-build home, Lilla Fjellsholmen, Cream Architects This detached holiday home sits perfectly in its rocky seaside location where it delivers beautiful views and light-filled rooms. Much thought was put into site orientation so that daylight could flood the home, especially through the huge, floor-to-ceiling window wall.
  • New-build home, Spanarvägen, Markus Ravegård Architecture Floor-to-ceiling Velfac windows and sliding patio doors deliver a 180-degree panorama of water and woodland and ensure maximum daylight enters the property from multiple directions.

Daylight was the key driver for these and many other Velfac installations. To view more case studies, visit velfac.co.uk/case-studies 

For more information and technical support, visit velfac.co.uk/commercial

 

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