The Dynamics of Shadow: Architecture of Natural Light in Extreme Latitudes

While architecture is composed of static structural elements, daylit space is perceived as a dynamic play of light and shadow – ephemeral qualities that add depth, texture, and movement to spatial composition. Our perception of architecture is greatly impacted by the intensity and geometry of natural light, which creates dynamic temporal effects through hourly and daily shifts in solar orientation. While most designers can agree that the composition of natural light is an important design consideration for the functionality, experience of, and comfort within architecture, daylight is most often evaluated for its ability to offset electric lighting use and promote energy efficient building practices. Using threshold illumination levels, most industry-standard metrics are concerned with evaluating whether there is sufficient illumination to conduct visual tasks and tend to promote a ‘more is better’ approach to lighting design - favoring uniformity over diversity and composition. While this approach is useful for measuring illumination requirements and evaluating daylight autonomy, there are limited metrics for evaluating the compositional factors of daylight and tools that can illustrate the ephemeral impacts of light and shadow as perceived by the human eye. The authors will present new performance metrics that are being developed to measure the compositional impacts of contrast in architecture, as perceived dynamically over space and time. Using high-dynamic-range renderings of an interior space located at 64°N, the authors will illustrate the dynamic visual effects of light and shadow through a short film. This film will document the daylight dynamics in two extreme conditions: the summer and winter solstices, drawing attention to the impact of latitude on our spatial perception of daylight. This presentation will combine cutting edge research in daylight analysis with stop motion film to communicate the power of light and shadow in our experience of architecture within a dynamic environment.

Presented at:
The Dynamics of Darkness in the North, Reykjavik Iceland, February 26-28, 2015
video animation

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 Record created 2015-05-18, last modified 2020-07-29

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