Harvesting Natural Lighting for Interiors
THE BENEFITS ARE CLEAR; SEE HOW IT’S IMPLEMENTED IN BUILDINGS
Humans weren’t made to live with- out natural light. Although there are many ways humans evolved
that society has moved away from, studies continue to show that exposure to
natural light has increased benefits. It’s no
wonder that buildings around the world
are choosing to find more ways of bringing natural light into interiors.
The benefits of natural light have been
studied for more than a decade, but the
findings are now being utilized across
the board in architecture and design —
particularly in offices where artificially lit
cubicles are on the way out.
In particular, studies have shown that
n Increases productivity
n Increases mood
n Creates healthier and better sleep
The reasons primarily have to do with
one’s circadian rhythm.
Circadian rhythm is the body’s natural
cycle throughout the day. Similar processes
are found in most living things, and are
affected by external factors, including
light and temperature.
The color of natural light changes
throughout the day due to the location
of the sun in the sky and the density of
the atmosphere. In the morning, sunlight
is more blue while the sun’s evening hue
contains more orange tones.
In the last year, luxury bathroom fixture
brand Fantini has opened a new hotel,
redesigned its lakeside manufacturing
facility and renovated its headquarters in
Each building features an abundance of
natural lighting, including massive floor-to-ceiling windows on the southeast side
of the headquarters, and large-scale windows along the northwest wall.
With natural light and stunning views
of Lake Orta, a common concern is that
employees will spend more time daydreaming and staring out of the window
than getting work done, but for Daniela
Fantini, CEO, the productivity and
increased mood in the office makes it
worthwhile. In fact, time spent staring out
the windows has led the team to more
The access to natural light isn’t only
Oodi Library, Helsinki
for those with creative jobs, however. The
manufacturing facilities next door to the
headquarters feature plenty of natural
light as well.
Up north in Finland, natural light is as
important a feature as any other when
constructing a building. With the long,
dark nights throughout much of the year,
double-paned glass and skylights abound.
Beginning with Alvar Aalto’s designs
in the 1960s, it has become common for
artificial light to be installed within the
crevices of skylights to lessen the intensity of lighting change from day to night.
Helsinki’s Oodi Library opened in
November. Included in the monolith is a
public space on the first floor that will
host events and conventions, and an
entire second floor designed to accommodate smaller groups in need of collaborative rooms or meeting spaces. The
third floor will house the library stacks.
Glass is used throughout the building
to allow natural light into the interior. On
the second floor, many of the meeting
rooms are constructed with glass walls
so that light can penetrate even the most
The third floor is designed with nearly
360-degree views from the floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall, and recessed
skylights are built in every few feet. Even
on dark days, the design allows as much
natural light as possible for patrons.
TD Bank, Toronto
When TD Bank’s Toronto headquarters
were being designed with international
firm HOK, they came across a unique situ-
Once most of the skyscraper’s floors
were constructed, TD Bank officials
decided to switch gears to allow the
last floor to integrate WELL standards,
including giving their employees access
to natural light. Because the original
floors weren’t built using WELL standards, the building could act as a case
study on itself.
Natural light is among the core features
of WELL, which also includes open work-spaces with access to daylight and views,
ambient lighting that supports circadian
rhythm and shading to reduce solar glare.
The employees who utilize the meeting
spaces on this WELL-focused floor report
more productive sessions than those tak-
ing place elsewhere in the building.
Kadie Yale ( email@example.com)
is an architecture and design expert for
FANTINI HEADQUARTERS in Pella,
Italy, features natural light and views
of Lake Orta.