Post 366 – by Gautam Shah
Day-lighting or daytime natural illumination is an important requirement for Interior spaces. The illumination requirements vary for various tasks, background brightness (contrast or glare), forms of shadows, and movement or variations in levels of lighting. The direct sources of daytime natural illumination in interior space are openings like doors, windows, gaps, cracks, punctures, translucent or transparent walls, trellis, etc. Besides these there are number of indirect means that enhance or contrast the direct sources of illumination. These means are planer or curvilinear surfaces, reflective surfaces, colours and textures. The daytime illumination arrives to a built-form, from different directions and sources, such as directly from the source, from sky, and as the reflections from terrestrial objects. These sources include, direct sunlight, diffused sky radiation, and both of these as reflected from the terrestrial objects.
The amount of daylight received into an interior space is defined as a daylight factor (being the ratio between the measured external and internal light levels). The external light level can be as high as 120,000 lux at noon for direct sunlight at noon, to less than 5 lux on very heavily cloudy evening.
To gain maximum daylight into an interior space the building should have wider foot print and its perimeter should be linear or undulated. The building must be longer in North-South direction, compared to East-West direction, unless the space is meant exclusively for either Morning or Evening use. For Northern Hemisphere, North side and for Southern Hemisphere, the South side receives more daylight.
The neighbourhood buildings and topography and immediate surroundings have a bearing on the quality of illumination entering a building. The reflected light from surfaces of buildings, colours of roads and pavements affect lower floors of the buildings. Reflections from sea front and movement of trees tops, due to the breeze, can have unsettling effect on interior spaces. Upper floors of tall buildings, except in similar localities, receive consistent, but very strong daylight from nominal windows. Such floors with bottom windows get disturbing reflections from traffic and other movements, reflected to the ceiling.
Location of openings, their proportion to wall, and distribution, determine the distribution of day light in the interior space. In tropical climate zones and in colder climes during warmer months, open doors play a very important role in daylight gain. Similarly, open to sky Chowk or cutouts with surrounding passages or ‘livan’ like spaces allow distributed illumination.
For good day lighting the interior spaces must have at least one face with exterior exposure, or with an abutting shading component like verandah or gallery. A skylight or upper level opening is an efficient source for natural illumination. A taller window leads the daylight deeper into the room space. The depth of daylight penetration is approximately two and one-half times the height of the opening.
The space planning of an interior layout must be optimized for daylight. Large tall pieces of furniture can act as mid space barricading element or as reflective surfaces. In commercial spaces half or fully glazed partitions can allow just sufficient illumination for passage areas. A plain ceiling at low level may not be as reflective as a stepped or contoured one.
On exterior and interior sides use of light-shelves, against an opening, helps distribute the daylight and cut glare. A light shelf could be a small width blade of a louver to very large fixed or adjustable jalousie system. A high-performance glazing systems generally admit light without the heat gain.
Reflectance of room surfaces impacts the perception of brightness in a space. The surface reflectance is a function of colour, its texture (matt, dull-sheen, glossy) and the orientation of grains of textures. Extreme levels of brightness are present in the same field of view, can be calibrated by surface design.
Daylight must be planned and ‘attuned’ for requirements of tasks, posture, communication, expression and intra-personal relationships, Poor visibility, recognition, and discomfort result from lack of required levels of illumination, direction. To remove wearisome consistency (as with sky or high level openings), some variations in moment to moment daylight must occur.