Achieving Daylight Infiltration in a Deep Residential Block

Abstract

Dealing with daylight, whether preventing it from entering or encouraging it to penetrate a space, is always an issue that needs to be addressed in architecture. Daylight design in multifamily residential buildings can be particularly problematic due to the necessity for daylight to reach each individual unit. Deep sites often result in “L” or “U” shaped buildings with individual bars remaining a maximum of 60 feet deep. During an initial site design phase, I determined an ideal building depth of approximately 100 feet. Therefore, I studied methods of allowing daylight to infiltrate the center, typically dark, areas of the building. Unhappy with the iterations of the 60-foot bar bent in different shapes and raised on a deeper plinth, I began to examine ideal sizes and shapes of courtyard spaces. The courtyard configuration and proportion was particularly important to allow enough light deep into the building without drastically decreasing the leasable space. In addition to studying the overall massing of the building, it was important to begin to question the typical rectangular unit. I pushed and pulled the units, allowing the spaces that did not need daylight (such as bathrooms) to take up the areas of the building where daylight would not penetrate. The combination of an atypical building geometry with atypical unit shapes allowed an elegant solution to a situation that often pervades architects.