"Urban Daylight Signature" by Giulio Antonutto & Santiago Torres
Architect specialized in lighting design
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
With the world’s urban populations growing at a rapid pace, among the challenges affecting our cities today one is daylight ad sunlight access. Daylight and sunlight have been proven to have positive effects on both our minds and bodies, but because of the increasing city densities, retaining satisfactory exposure to natural light is very difficult. Planners, developers, and city councils involved in planning processes all know this very well, the industry focus is typically on compliance rather than a quest for experiential quality. We have researched to define a new family of indicators that can capture the difference between nominal goals and quality designs. These indicators aim to characterise the distinctive presence of daylight and sunlight in an urban area, unveiling the ‘daylight signature’ of a specific place.
To define these indicators, we have started from a review of one of the most regarded daylight and sunlight guides to planners (Document BR209, 1992, revised in 2011) which provides a set of methods for analysing and quantifying the availability of sunlight and daylight for buildings. This document identifies typical thresholds that a designer should aim for and has enjoyed an undisputed reputation in the UK for being a very valid approach to achieving compliance. Interestingly, the BR 209 thresholds are not an absolute requirement and a method is provided for designers to define alternative ones. This has led to some to suggesting that the thresholds should be lowered, while others have applied the guide’s methods in the most orthodox fashion. And in this race for lowering requirements three questions arose: • Shouldn’t we consider the quality of daylight as our goal rather than numerical thresholds?
• Can we relate daylight quality to people’s experiences within existing urban settings?
• Can we use this information to shape our urban environment?
Our research aims at providing a new framework to answer the above quest, to provide quality indicators which are descriptive of daylight and sunlight in an urban setting which is characterised by its qualities and not by its compliance. To test our framework, we have used a dataset including the full extent of Central London with millions of receptors. The dataset includes several areas of various densities and configurations and is described for sunlight, daylight, massing, orientation, amenity and density. Recursive unsupervised machine learning has allowed to segment the dataset into classes. Areas providing users a similar experience for daylight and sunlight fall into the same class. As we determine these classes, or daylight signatures, we can compare the different characters of different places.
This type of data can empower individuals to create a daylight signature that encapsulates the intrinsic quality of a place. Moving away from only looking at targets for compliance, we can start to use these quality indicators to develop new guidance for planning and legislation. Using generative design and agent-based modelling, we can create city-scale designs that meet the requirements of selected signatures, balancing the requirements for space with land value to meet the most nuanced quality measures of daylight.
Giulio Antonutto has worked on a number of iconic projects including the Sheraton Hotel Garden in Doha, the Zaha’s Investcorp Building at the St Antony's College, the Zaha’s London Aquatics Centre and the Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, USA. Giulio’s area of competence include lighting for broadcast, natural lighting, product design and Masterplan. He has extensive experience in advanced engineering tools. He has been awarded in 2007 with the G4C Innovation Award in relation to his research work on computational design optimisation for lighting and Masterplan. Santiago Torres is a trained architect specialized in lighting design, with expertise in advanced daylighting simulation. At university, he has researched the acceptance of users to daylit environments under glare conditions, and its consequence for the energy performance of buildings. Since joining Arup, Santiago has been involved in a wide range of projects for both daylighting and architectural lighting design, often collaborating in inter-disciplinary teams to create integrated solutions. These projects have included commercial and residential buildings, museums, sport venues, as well as art installations and special purpose buildings.