Tag Archives: design theory

A Crash Course in Roof Venting

When To Vent Your Roof and When Not To
Much information has been devoted to the subject of roof venting. So much, that it’s easy to become confused and to lose focus. So let’s start with something that might sound controversial, but really isn’t: a vented attic, where insulation is placed on an air-sealed attic floor, is one of the most under-appreciated building assemblies in all of building science. A vented attic works in hot climates, mixed climates, and cold climates. It works in the polar arctic and in humid rain forests.

Executed properly it works absolutely everywhere, in every climate. Continue reading

Cradle-to-Cradle Design in Architecture

00cradletocradleWhat is Cradle to Cradle Design?
Cradle to Cradle Design (also referred to as Cradle to Cradle, C2C, or regenerative design) is a concept which proposes to change our way of thinking on materials and products from a linear process into a circular one. Our current linear cradle to grave process causes numerous environmental problems. Nature is sacrificed to the harvest of materials towards human needs, valuable materials are buried or burned after use, and huge amounts of waste and toxins are produced. Continue reading

Top 10 House Designs and Architectural Styles to Ignite your Imagination

Are you in the process of designing and building your dream home, cottage, or ranch? If so, you are probably overwhelmed by the sheer number of home designs and styles that modern residential architecture has to offer. But, never fear! Here are the top ten architectural styles to help you zero-in on that perfect house design to suit your personality and taste.

House styles give our streets and neighborhoods a personality. Have you ever wondered, “What house style is that?” Here’s the lowdown on what is going on in American streets. Continue reading

What is Architectural Design Excellence?

mount-everest-1

In achieving architectural design excellence there are infinite Everests which beckon us: which Everest should we climb?

“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

Psychosocial Value of Architectural Space

2_s

Are there lessons from the zoo that we can apply to building design? The answer is clearly “yes.”

What would a building space be if it were designed to promote psychological and social well-being? How would your affect the senses, emotions, and mind? How would it your affect behavioral patterns and sense of community? For insight, it is useful to look not at buildings, but at zoos. Zoo design has gone through radical transformation in the past several decades: cages have been replaced by natural habitats and geographic clustering of animals. Continue reading

Building Design for Productivity

BubbleEffective 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.

Continue reading

Pattern Language No.159: Light On Two Sides Of Every Room

modern-windows

“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”.

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.

modern-room-big-windows

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.

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”.

scandinavian-style-kitchen

“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.”

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.

 Therefore:

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.