Borrowed Daylight

In tight urban sites, daylighting can be a tremendous challenge.  When the building footprint uses the entire site, there is little opportunity for exterior windows.  In order to address this problem, the use of atriums or light wells is a good solution.  The natural daylight lights the atrium, then the spaces around the atrium “borrow” light from the atrium much like an exterior window.

In the Byck’s condominiums, the existing building had no opportunity for permanent windows on the north wall.  The vacant lot to the north could be built on and a new building would cover any windows in the north wall.  Instead of creating one large atrium with many spaces around it, the building was configured with many small atriums throughout.  In each case, the atrium became an exterior patio for one condominium and provided nice, soft north light for the unit.

To maximize the day-lit rooms, the size and height of the windows were considered.  As a rule of thumb, daylight will reach 2 ½ times the height of the window head.  In the Byck’s case, the windows were designed to light 22 ft., 6 in. into the space, which allowed for a deep floor plan.