Natural light and health

IMG_9236Medical science has long proven the relationship between the daylight in general, and sunlight in particular which are vital to our health.

Increased urbanization and modern socioeconomic forces, require us to live and work indoor and sometimes receive no daylight for extended periods of time.


It is generally accepted that we feel better under daylight conditions as light affects our bodies in two ways. In the first, light impinges on the retina of our eyes and, through our vision system, affects our metabolism and our endocrine and hormone systems. In the second, it interacts with our skin by way of photosynthesis and produces vitamin D. It also affect certain physiological and psychological aspects of human health.


Now new architecture emphasize large spans of glass and ample natural light inside the building encouraging daylighting in building interiors and incorporating large expanses of windows to maximize natural light and fresh air. Windows diffuse daylight and sunlight inside a room while providing views to the outside, thereby adding a sense of openness, spaciousness, and orientation with nature.
Daylighting strategies can also using top lighting systems, where light is brought from the top of a building and distributed into the interior. A glass skylight is the simplest example of such a system.


A successful daylighting strategy is one that maximizes daylight levels inside the building but optimizes the quality of the luminous environment for the occupants. Daylighting design is not only about maximizing light levels. Excessive sunlight in an interior can be extremely uncomfortable for its occupants. The key word in daylighting design is control, not only of light levels but also of the direction and the distribution of light.


When properly designed, daylighting can provide significant energy savings for building owners. With recent concerns over global warming and the need to conserve fossil fuels, it is good in incorporating canopies, balconies and open terraces as part of living spaces where we can have access to unfiltered sunlight.


Article excerpt from Daylighting, Architecture and Health (Building design strategies) by Mohamed Boubekri

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