With extensive benefits, natural lighting is a key focus for the modern interior designer. Natural lighting in green buildings is even more important, and the balancing act between natural light allowance and solar shading is a challenge for designers around the world.
A clever piece of innovation from a Japanese architectural firm, however, demonstrates that extensive natural lighting does not have to mean thermal gain. Architectural firm Takeshi Hosaka architects have developed the ‘Daylight House’ in Yokohama City Japan which, as its name would suggest, is a residence that optimises natural light.
One hurdle the designers had to overcome when undertaking the project was in making the plan work given the location. Japan’s high residential density means that wall-mounted windows would simply not gain optimal amounts of natural light or be remotely aesthetically pleasing due to closely-positioned surrounding houses.
However, instead of looking outward, the designers looked upward, incorporating a large-scale skylight system in the ceilings of the 915-square-foot home.
Staying true to the building’s low-carbon nature, recycled acrylic skylights have been built into to the available space on the ceiling and sunlight is able to stream into the various rooms. This creates a light-filled atmosphere akin to being inside a greenhouse.
As in a greenhouse, the copious amounts of direct sunlight means that indoor plant growing conditions are prime, with every room featuring large amounts of greenery.
The obvious question remains, however: how is it that a small house full of direct sunlight doesn’t turn into a boiler room?
This is made possible, simply enough, through the clever implementation of an air trap system which expels the hot air when the heat becomes too much. Inversely, in the the cooler months, the hot air is stored and and can be used to heat the home.
Daylight House is a great example of having your cake and eating it too. Not only can natural lighting be achieved and implemented without excess solar gain, but the thermal gain can be used as a highly sustainable form of heating.
Given its cleverness and simplicity, the design is sure to be repeated.