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Natural Light: The Latest Architecture and News

4 Homes in Brazil that Encourage Indoor-Outdoor Living

The early 20th century marked a pivotal era in Brazilian architecture with the advent of the modernist movement. Architects like Oscar Niemeyer or Lúcio Costa introduced avant-garde designs characterized by sleek lines, reinforced concrete, and a focus on functionality. What's more: residential projects of the era, in particular, blurred the lines between indoor and outdoor, flawlessly merging interior and exterior spaces to reflect a lifestyle that harmonizes with nature. Fast forward to the present day, and contemporary architects and designers in Brazil continue to embrace the challenge of creating indoor-outdoor homes that nod to the country's tropical climate. These residences often feature open floor plans, expansive glass walls, and strategic positioning of courtyards, gardens, or terraces with a design philosophy that emphasizes natural light, ventilation, and the incorporation of greenery for increased well-being. We take a detailed look at four recently completed residential projects in Brazil that fuse contemporary architecture, sustainable living, and a deep appreciation for their natural surroundings.

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Finnish ‘Architect of Light’ Juha Ilmari Leiviskä Passes Away at 87

Juha Ilmari Leiviskä, one of Finland´s foremost architects recognized for his design of light-filled poetic spaces, passed away on November 9, 2023, at the age of 87. Born in Helsinki and educated at Helsinki University of Technology, Leiviskä developed a personal style throughout his six decades-long career, working with his own family of forms to design buildings with unique identities, yet unified by their treatment of light and geometry. His architecture has been praised for its serene, hones, and timeless qualities, earning him numerous awards and international recognition.

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Unveiling New Images of Snøhetta's Spiraling Shanghai Opera House

Snøhetta has just released construction images showing the progress on the studio’s long-awaited Shanghai Grand Opera House in China. With its iconic fan-shaped roof, the firm has been commissioned the scheme in 2019 following an international design competition. The project is set to be completed in 2025, seeking to attract a broad audience for traditional, classical, and experimental performances.

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Unlocking the Potential of Natural Light with Daylight Modeling

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Architects such as Alvar Aalto and Tadao Ando showcase the ability of natural light to shape architectural spaces. Aalto's projects employ extensive glass elements, carefully positioned windows and skylights, harnessing the ever-changing characteristics of daylight. Meanwhile, Ando's Church of Light serves as a striking example of how light can hold profound spiritual significance within a space. Its concrete facade features a symbolic cross-shaped opening, which beautifully and symbolically illuminates the interior, creating a unique spiritual ambiance. In addition to being an essential element that enhances interior aesthetics, natural light profoundly impacts the overall quality of life, promoting better well-being and productivity. By taking advantage of the power of natural light, spaces can reduce their dependence on artificial lighting, leading to greater energy efficiency and a more sustainable design approach.

Design for Health at the UIA World Congress of Architects 2023

The UIA World Congress of Architects 2023 is an invitation for architects from around the world to meet in Copenhagen July 2 – 6 to explore and communicate how architecture influences all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For more than two years, the Science Track and its international Scientific Committee have been analyzing the various ways in which architecture responds to the SDGs. The work has resulted in the formulation of six science panels: design for Climate Adaptation, design for Rethinking Resources, design for Resilient Communities, design for Health, design for Inclusivity, and design for Partnerships for Change. An international call for papers was sent out in 2022 and 296 of more than 750 submissions from 77 countries have been invited to present at the UIA World Congress of Architects 2023 in Copenhagen. ArchDaily is collaborating with the UIA to share articles pertaining to the six themes to prepare for the opening of the Congress.

In this fourth feature, we met with co-chairs of design for Health architect Arif Hasan, former Visiting Professor NED University Karachi and member of UNs Advisory Group on Forced Evictions, and architect Christian Benimana, Senior Principal and Co-Executive Director at MASS Design Group

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Designing Naturally Illuminated Learning Environments on a Tight Budget

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As societies evolve, educational facilities also undergo continuous transformation processes to keep up. In terms of their design strategies, they must embrace modern approaches that respond to the changing needs of students and teachers. Including flexible, inclusive, and engaging spaces that seamlessly integrate technological advances, contemporary educational design aims to enhance learning and collaborative work, as well as comfort and wellbeing.

Kalwall focuses on developing forward-thinking solutions for human-centered design that address these evolving needs, while responding to a tight budget. Through a collaborative strategy with architecture and engineering projects, they focus on four ways to design optimal learning environments, including daylight design, energy efficiency, safety, and cost savings through renovation and installation.

Foster + Partners Breaks Ground on the BENCH Headquarters in Manila

Foster + Partners’ project for BENCH, one of the Philippines’ leading clothing and lifestyle brands, has started construction in Manila. The 24-storey headquarters building offers offices, design studios, event spaces, and the necessary amenities to create an enjoyable environment for the company’s employees. Located on the east-west axis in the Bonifacio Global City, the building opens up the ground floor to create a visual connection to the green space surrounding it.

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The Impact of Daylight on a School Renovation Project in Copenhagen

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Architects have always considered the positive influence of natural light on the health and mood of a building's occupants, but measuring its actual benefits was a challenge for a long time. However, the past few decades have seen significant progress in this area, with research such as the comprehensive study conducted by the Heschong Mahone Group, which analyzed more than 21,000 student tests in three school districts in California, Washington, and Colorado. The results showed that students in classrooms with more natural light had a 20% faster learning progress in math tests and 26% on reading tests, compared to students in classrooms with less natural light. Many other studies reinforce that including natural light in spaces has immense long-term benefits for societies, especially during a child's valuable formative years, who spend about 90% of their time indoors and about 200 days a year in classrooms.

The Threshold Between Daylight and Architecture: Flat Roof Access Hatches

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Beyond light as a physical phenomenon perceptible by the human eye, daylight is an inexhaustible architectural resource that is sometimes taken for granted. Just like the air we breathe, we are all aware of the existence of light, but rarely do we seek to do anything else with it. It is essential to recognize its presence as an enabler of experiences in space, due to its intrinsic relationship with architecture and human beings.

The incidence of light in architecture directly influences the way we perceive the passage of time. Since ancient times, constructions such as ziggurats have integrated strategies to capture the changing daylight through their roofs, evolving and remaining present in modern constructions such as the Villa Savoye. More recently, the flatness of roofs in contemporary buildings has been a great resource for incorporating architectural elements that also allow them to be inhabited, such as roof access hatches, which serve as a link between natural light and roof terraces.

Below, we review some of the latest technologies in skylights and access hatches, such as those developed by LAMILUX.

Glazed Facades: Increasing Access to Natural Light with See-Through Surfaces

Sunshine has been an integral part of life ever since the sun and the earth began their merry dance. The feel-good ambiance provided by natural light is a recurring theme in human culture, from popular music, fashion, and photography, to our most luxurious environments.

But our bodies’ craving for sunlight is more than just a feeling. Scientific research has proven it helps our bodies to produce more melatonin which aids sleep and reduces stress, vitamin D which improves immunity and strengthens bones, and serotonin which fights depression. As well as helping us to live healthier and happier lives, research suggests the sun also helps us to live longer, too.

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Daylight Helps Transform a Once Victorian Prison into a Luxurious Hotel

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Commercial building refurbishment projects present architects with design challenges. Transforming 18th century Bodmin Jail into a modern hotel meant an acknowledgement of restrictions in relation to the building’s infrastructure. Listed buildings often have construction regulations to preserve historic and architectural interests, impacting thermal comfort and how daylight is introduced to transform building spaces.

These design challenges can make architectural planning appear more complex, particularly when a building is being repurposed. Common challenges include sourcing materials to replicate or meet existing infrastructures. The adaption of floor plans, consideration of user comfort and introduction of technology in planning phases, also influence contemporary design. The Bodmin Jail Hotel required skylight installations that could work within an existing and iconic sloping roof.

Light as a Design Statement: Inspiring Ways to Manage Natural Lighting

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© Eugeni PONS

For most people, modern living requires spending most of the day in interior spaces - in fact, according to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average person spends around 90% of their life indoors. As a result, this implies missing out on health benefits associated with sunlight exposure, such as vitamin D absorption, regulation of circadian rhythms, higher energy levels and even improved mood. Thus, one option is to increase the amount of time we spend outdoors. But because most daily functions are carried out inside buildings, it is crucial to incorporate and prioritize natural lighting in interiors.

How to Design for Visual Comfort Using Natural Light

Architects are increasingly aware of our influence on the well-being and good health of the users of our projects. Natural lighting –and how it should be complemented with artificial lighting– is an essential factor to consider for the visual comfort of interior spaces. But, do we know how to handle it correctly?

White Arkitekter's Design for Nuuk's Psychiatric Clinic Emphasizes Nature in Mental Health Design

The built atmosphere in which we live has a profound impact on our mood and well-being. For those with mental health issues, this fact is particularly important to understand. This raises the question: can architects successfully design a space that has an overall positive influence on the healing process? What integrated elements of the building, in particular, aid in the process while fighting the prejudice and stigma of mental health issues?