"Changing Towards Daylight’s Changeability" by Merete Madsen
Presentation from the 8th VELUX Daylight Symposium that took place in Paris on 9 October 2019. For more information please visit http://thedaylightsite.com & https://www.velux.com/veluxdaysinparis
One of the main qualities of daylight in architecture is that daylight constantly changes throughout the day and year. Architects often quote Louis Kahn, who once said that “A room is not a room without natural light” . Kahn himself quoted the American poet Wallace Stevens, who asked: “What range of moods does the light offer from morning to night, from day to day, from season to season and all through the year?” While we professionals are busy providing sufficient daylighting for work areas, preventing glare, and saving energy by optimizing daylight, our work could be further enhanced by returning to Wallace’s question more often, and more rigorously.
Everyone has their own favourite experiences of daylight entering and altering a space. It can be that magical moment when a ray of orange, morning sunlight strikes a kitchen wall, a cloudy day making a space seem weightless, or maybe it’s the poetic polychromatic glow of twilight, which once was formerly observed as a moment for contemplation in the Nordic. In today’s 24/7 society, most professionals no longer embrace the changeability of daylight or the colourfulness of twilight in buildings – especially not in office buildings. On the contrary, due to the various regulations placed on the electrical lighting and energy consumptions in buildings, the variability of daylight is most often wiped-out by constantly adjusting the electrical lighting levels in proportion to the amount of daylight present within any given place in the building. In other words, daylight is utilised by adding only the amount of electrical lighting needed to obtain the required lighting levels in the different areas. By doing so, the experience of daylight’s fluctuation and the range of moods that natural light can afford to spaces throughout the day, and the year, is wiped-out.
By its very nature, daylight is dynamic, and today’s electrical lighting is dynamic as well. So why is this double-dynamic nature of light only used to create constant lighting levels? Why don’t we include the variability as a quality well? This paper will discuss how the variations of daylight can be accentuated in modern office buildings by proposing various strategies for controlling electrical lighting. Merete Madsen is educated as an architect and specialized in daylighting design. She holds a Ph.D. from The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, in Copenhagen, where she also worked as Associate Professor until 2008. Since then, Merete has worked as lighting designer at Sweco in Copenhagen, where she is team leader for an interdisciplinary team of lighting designers, architects and engineers, working with daylighting and lighting design. Merete Madsen has written several articles in various magazines and lectured at universities in Denmark, Sweden and New Zeeland.