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A Daylighting Design for a Student Lounge

February 23, 2011


Now that you’re all caught up on daylighting from my last post (ha), allow me to present my first attempt ever at a daylighting design. Ironically, it may be easier to introduce my concept via my renderings of the electric lighting design, as they offer the clearest images of the space:

lighting design daylighting architecture architectural academic school student lounge rendering

Student Lounge, First Floor Perspective

lighting design daylighting architecture architectural academic school student lounge rendering

Student Lounge, Mezzanine Perspective


As you can see, the space we were charged with designing was a small student lounge and study area, for which we developed both a daylighting and electric lighting design.  To give you an idea of the time frame we were working under, almost everything I will present here was developed and delivered in a presentation within the span of one week (hence, my complete and utter exhaustion at the end of last week).

To orient you a bit to the space, the room is theoretically located on the third floor south facade of the Parsons building on East 13th Street in New York City.  It measures approximately 20′ wide at the south facade, 40′ deep, and 24′ tall.  The location and dimensions are important because they help place the room in a precise location in relationship to the sun, which is necessary to know to maximize the amount of sunlight and daylight let into the room.

Site Context

The concept for the design was simple: to provide two different types of lighting environments for the two program spaces (the lounge and the study area) based on the tasks would be typically performed in those spaces.  Our inspirational image, from which we took our lighting ideas, was this one:

My partner, Mark, and I were drawn to this picture because it represents the two different types of light, or two different moods, that we wanted to achieve.  The streaks of sunlight represent the mood we wanted to achieve in the lounge, where pools of sunlight (or electric light) would create a warm, inviting space to sit, relax, and chat with friends in.  The clouds above represent the mood we wanted to achieve in the study area, where a diffuse glow would cast soft light down onto those reading or studying.  The process by which we arrived at the final design was a lengthy one, so I will try to condense here for the sake of space, however, it involved the analysis of the angles of the sun as they arrived on the surface of the building facade.

We wanted to create a facade wall that addressed both our concept and the need to control the direct sunlight entering the room.  We settled on the idea of using a thick wall pierced with hexagonal extrusions of varying sizes as a way to accomplish both of these tasks.  Here is a photo taken of our scale model to better understand the solution:

We realized that the shape of the hexagonal extrusion in the wall would “capture” some of the light, allowing it to bounce around inside the shape to the other facets, while allowing the rest of the light to pass through to the lounge, creating streaks and pools of light, similar to our inspiration image above. We sized the apertures according to the need to control the intensities of light and the glare  for the two different spaces, the lounge below, and the study area above.  Here is a diagram illustrating the effects of our solution:

To bring additional illumination to the study lounge on the mezzanine level, we incorporated six north-facing daylight clerestory windows into the ceiling to allow in tons of natural daylight, creating a diffuse, even glow to work under during the day.  “Light tubes” in the ceiling also allowed us to bring in an element of direct winter sun into the back of the room to interact with a hanging decorative sculpture we planned to place in its path.

Here are images from our computer-generated model of what the front facade and back of the room would look like if photographed with a “fisheye” lens (offering a 180 degree view in one direction):

Do you get this feeling?

Anyway, this design was accompanied by tons and tons of data and analysis that was used to perfect the conditions inside the room to allow the maximum energy savings in the design and operation of the electric lighting system.  For example, our analysis showed that the majority of the room could operate 75% of the daylight hours of the year (8AM-5PM) without needing any of the electric lighting turned on — we allowed so much daylight into the room that turning on the electric lighting would be unnecessary until dusk for 75% of the year.

For the electric lighting design, we wanted to mimic what was happening with the daylighting design.  Our focal point for that goal was, again, the facade wall, which we designed to illuminate with typical household A lamps placed intermittently at junctions between the apertures:

Again, we were trying to achieve the “cloud” effect from our inspiration image.  For fun, here is what the exterior would look like from the street below:

Everything else in our electric lighting design essentially responded to the hexagonal shape of our facade design, which we found worked well as a lighting device in itself.  Here is a detailed diagram of some of the specific solutions we implemented in our electric lighting design:

Again, the renderings are probably the best explanation for the mood and effects we were trying to achieve with the electric lighting design, and as you can see, we were aiming for a warm, defined mood in the lounge, and a more diffuse glow in the study lounge.

lighting design daylighting architecture architectural academic school student lounge rendering

lighting design daylighting architecture architectural academic school student lounge rendering

Unfortunately I have so much more that I can share about this design, from the analysis of the illuminance levels, daylight factor, and daylight autonomy, to controls and more specific information about both the daylighting and electric lighting design, however, I would have to expound for another ten full pages to explain it all.  Hopefully my brief explanation here offered a taste of this project and of what I am learning about here at Parsons.  Please, feel free to contact me if you would like a more thorough presentation of the design, because I am certainly well-rehearsed and prepared to do so!  Time is of the essence, though, so I must conclude somewhat abruptly.

Stay on the lookout for future updates on this and other projects, including my final lighting studio project which will be an extension of this one — the design of a full five-story academic center!

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