Economic prosperity in Barcelona, Spain during the mid-19th century encouraged the population to rise, but infrastructure constraints seemed to compel the decline of urban design and by extension public health. Presently, airborne pollutants with the greatest impact to Barcelona appear to come from motor vehicles. The city’s solution is to repurpose the existing grid layout in favor of environmentally- and pedestrian-friendly city streets with the application of superblocks.
“The secret of architectural excellence is to translate the proportions of a dachshund into bricks, mortar and marble.”
Sir Christopher Wren, 1632-1723
There are as many criteria for defining design excellence in architecture as there are architectural designs. And climbing to the summit of design excellence is analogous to that of climbing Mount Everest. Yet in architectural design there are infinite Everests which beckon: which Everest should we climb? Continue reading
Effective and efficient use of space means creating the right environment for concentration, learning, communication, and collaboration—the building blocks of productivity for building occupants.
Organizations, business practices, educational settings and learning methodologies, and the workforce have changed dramatically in the past two decades. Technological advances, demographic shifts, and continual demands for innovation have created pressures for environments to catch up with the changing nature of organizations, work and workplace.
When executing a lease, most tenants will need to renovate an existing space. The scope of this work can range from new carpet and paint to the complete build-out of empty shell space. It is important to have a very clear idea of what it costs to design, permit and construct the new improvements for the new space. What may seem initially to be a simple remodel can grow in complexity and cost as unforeseen complications emerge. Continue reading
We all want to add more space to our home, yet it is a luxury and can be a particularly expensive one. Many of us dream of the day when we can expand our homes, add an extension or convert an attic. It takes no effort to imagine how life could be less chaotic and better organized if only we had a bigger living space, room for a home office, an extra bathroom or a guest bedroom. Continue reading
Every homeowner has their own design style, which makes choosing a floor plan that meets style preferences — and functional needs — essential. While there is no such thing as a universally “perfect” floor plan, there is, however, such a thing as the “perfect” floor plan for your household. There are pros and cons to the traditional floor plan and the modern floor plan alike. Only by weighing your priorities, can you figure out which floor plan is perfect. In this article we want to help you determine whether or not the open floor plan is compatible with your needs and stylistic preferences. Continue reading
Architect/theorist Christopher Alexander conceptualized his Pattern #159: ‘Light On Two Sides Of Every Room’ in his 1977 book, A Pattern Language. Alexander identified that “when they have a choice, people will always gravitate to those rooms which have light on two sides, and leave the rooms which are lit only from one side unused and empty.”
He further maintained that, “this pattern, perhaps more than any other single pattern, determines the success or failure of a room.”
Why is this? Alexander does point out that his own experimentation, from which he drew his conclusions, was rather informal. But the phenomenon is very real. What is it about certain patterns of light that attract people or enhance space and volumes effectively? There are several probable reasons why a room or space with lit on two sides (bilateral daylighting) is more successful than one with light only from one side.
Firstly, bilateral lighting instinctively feels more natural. Balanced light – light coming from more than one direction – is more akin to natural light. In the great outdoors we have both direct sunlight and light from the sky itself – light coming from all different directions. This helps provide depth, giving us clear information about shapes and forms. A strong light source from one direction tends to flatten our views, providing less visual information.
Another reason could be related to brightness and contrast ratios. Take for example the case where one is engaged in conversation in a room lit by a single window, without the benefit of natural side lighting. Because that person’s face is in harsh contrast, it’s more difficult to see facial expressions, giving us considerably less information about their mood or response. This in turn is thought to induce some amount of psychological discomfort, which we in turn project into feelings about the room itself.
The third culprit is glare. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America [IESNA] identifies glare as two sensations, disability glare and discomfort glare. Disability glare is defined as “the effect of stray light in the eye whereby visibility and visual performance are reduced”. Discomfort glare is defined as “glare that produces discomfort. It does not necessarily interfere with visual performance or visibility”.
Researchers know that the relative location of a light source is a factor contributing to discomfort glare. In the present example, the high contrast between the window aperture and the surrounding surfaces is much higher in a unilaterally lit room than one which is bilaterally lit. The direct impacts of glare are eyestrain and discomfort. Indirect physiological impacts of glare can include red and itchy eyes, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, and fatigue.
Here are excerpts from A Pattern Language, Pattern #159: Light On Two Sides Of Every Room:
When they have a choice, people will always gravitate to those rooms which have light on two sides, and leave the rooms which are lit only from one side unused and empty.
Locate each room so that it has outdoor space outside it on at least two sides, and then place windows in these outdoor walls so that natural light falls into every room from more than one direction.
The arrangement of daylight in a room, and the presence of windows on two sides, is fundamental. If you build a room with light on one side only, you can be almost certain that you are wasting your money. People will stay out of that room if they can possibly avoid it. Of course, if all the rooms are lit from one side only, people will have to use them. But we can be fairly sure that, they are subtly uncomfortable there, always wishing they weren’t there, wanting to leave – just because we are so sure of what people do when they do have the choice.