Why do we care about natural light in architecture?

March 27, 2018

Why do we care about natural light in architecture?

It’s no secret that people covet naturally lit spaces with wonderful views of the outdoors. Weber Design Group is known for creating architecture that incorporates large walls of glass for showcasing spectacular views, and for providing seamless indoor-outdoor transitions. But where does the desire to provide natural light come from, and why does it matter so much in architecture?

“Architecture is the masterly, correct, and magnificent play of masses brought together in light.  Our eyes are made to see forms in light: light and shade reveal these forms.”  (Le Corbusier, 1927)

Daylighting is the illumination of indoor spaces by natural light. It’s kind of a big deal in architecture, but our proclivity to prefer building designs that incorporate natural light and views of nature is based on more than just aesthetics. Science supports the notion that humans are happier and healthier when we are exposed to natural light, and indeed it is instinctual for us to prefer a naturally lit space!

Not only do we prefer natural light, our health and longevity depend on it. A fact sheet published by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences explains, “circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. They respond primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.” These rhythms influence many bodily functions including sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, digestion and more. Disrupted circadian rhythms can result in chronic health conditions such as sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, and depression.

According to a 2016 article in Metropolis Magazine “for most of human history, daylight drove building form, codes, and regulations; in 600 A.D. the Justinian Code enforced sun rights to protect property owners from illegal shadows.” But, the article goes on to explain that, as technology progressed, innovations such as air conditioning and electrical lighting allowed us to rely less and less on windows for light and cooling, and at the same time a trend toward greater floor area ratio further separated us from natural light.

Commercial Building Design with Large Amounts of Glass

One of our recent commercial building designs incorporating large amounts of glass to bring in natural light.

This has all created a multitude of factors for modern architects to consider when designing buildings. Good design, as we know, is aesthetically pleasing and functional, but should also support the health and happiness of occupants. Strategic and generous use of windows in home and building design is not a luxury; it is a crucial part of good design and healthy spaces.

For over 25 years, Weber Design Group has been creating designs that maximize views, embrace the indoor-outdoor lifestyle and integrate natural light into spaces. Browse our custom residential and commercial building portfolios, search through our database of nearly 300 stock house plans, and contact us today to start a dialogue about your architectural project.