Daylight: How Can Lighting Designers Re-Connect?


Daylighting in architecture is not a new concept, but the standards and design requirements that help quantify the amount of daylight that penetrates an architectural space have evolved. Daylighting design thoughtfully incorporates daylight into a space while weighing concomitant effects such as thermal gains/losses, glare, etc. The incorporation of daylight is not, however, only a question of quantity but also quality and, in order for a building’s illumination goals to be realized, lighting design needs to be mindful of both.

Humans have a very intimate relationship with the sun, both from a psychological and physiological standpoint and the current trend is for lighting designers to rethink this relationship. The topic of circadian rhythms is now central to the dialogue on health and wellbeing and yet most people spend the majority of time inside built environments. Daylight plays a vital role in regulating many of our bodily processes, such as sleep/wake cycles and has even been reported to increase productivity levels. Daylighting design can uplift and rejuvenate interior space and inhabitants.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” (Frank Lloyd Wright): The relationship that daylight has with architectural form and materiality is the basis for informed lighting of interior spaces. Cognizance of the impact of interior space on the mutability of light is essential to the creation of spaces that maximize potential and enhance overall user wellbeing. Material reflectance plays a role in how quantities and qualities of daylight are transmitted or reflected in our built environments. Successful execution of daylighting design is not simply a matter of harnessing natural light sources: coupling artificial and natural light along with efficient lighting controls ensures desirable illuminance levels and net energy savings are achieved.

Alongside the development of daylighting trends, MBL (Mulvey & Banani Lighting) has provided daylighting reports and modelling services for over six years to help clients analyze their building environments and interpret design requirements. With new standards like WELL evolving and standards such as LEED and ASHREA continually driving building performance, the need to analyze and convey design intent is essential in order to instill confidence in the design choices. By delving deeper into daylighting conversations and idea exchanges, a lighting designer is better equipped to articulate expectations of daylight in our built environments.