While many architects consider windows for brightening interior spaces, Norman Foster is intrigued by natural light from above. The British star architect has long held Louis Kahn and Alvar Aalto in high esteem for how they handled daylight - especially with regard to the roof. In particular large public buildings benefit from this strategy creating enjoyable spaces. Therefore, Foster regards daylight from above as indispensable when he develops megastructures for airports on the ground or tall skyscrapers for work. But daylight from above is much more than an aesthetic dimension, remarks Foster: "Quite apart from the humanistic and poetic qualities of natural light there are also energy implications." At the time Foster designed Stansted Airport, typical architectural features of the typology included roof ductwork, suspended ceilings, roof-mounted air-conditioning units, and fluorescent lighting. In short, a lot of structural and servicing redundancy and very little natural light. By contrast, the roof of Stansted is unique."Its design is dedicated to natural light," explains Foster "with a proportion of the surface glazed to let sunlight in, and 'daylight reflectors' inside that bounce the light back up on to the sculptural shape of the ceiling. At night, artificial light achieves the same effect."
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