7th Daylight Symposium by VELUX

Daylight Symposium by archifos
Photo credits: Katia Kolovea


The theme of the 7th Daylight Symposium was:


It was focused specifically on the use of daylight to create buildings that promote human health and wellbeing and, minimize the negative impact of man-made structures and activities on climate change.

Photo credits: cafeMoskau_GmbH


The daylight symposium took place in a beautiful place, Cafe Moskau. Cafe Moskau, constructed from 1961 to 1964. It is a place with history and the prestigious building symbolize the fraternal relations between the GDR and the Soviet Union. It was a very popular meeting place for black-market activities. In 1989, it became listed as a heritage site thus ensuring its permanent protection as a cultural asset. The building was fully renovated in 2007, and with its 1960s charm restored, is used today as a multipurpose meeting and events venue.

Photo credits: Katia Kolovea


Personally, I believe that it was the most appropriate place for the daylight symposium to take place, since we were surrounded by glass and views to the city, filtered by trees. Since we had to be concentrated for many hours and participate in the lectures, this visual comfort in terms of lighting and views was very helpful. In the following lines, I will write some reflections from my favorite presentations during the daylight symposium.


My reflections and ten selected presentations from the Daylight Symposium:
  1. Stefan Behnisch, Behnisch Architekten (DE)

The first lecture was from Mr. Stefan Behnisch who spoke for “Daylight as a qualitative aspect and driving element in developing Architecture”

*Light is invisible-Louis Khan, James Turrell, eclipse> right lighting according to the climate. Light is only visible by what is reflected otherwise, we would see only a black hole.

*Introduce quality in a room by using the sensation of light.

*In architecture we work with stones, concrete. Light is the most immaterial element. Changing sensation. It appears and it disappears. so HOW CAN WE MAKE THE LIGHT VISIBLE?

* I was inspired by their “agora cancer research building” project where they made the whole facade a shading system for the wind and sun. The outdoor mesh was letting in the indoor spaces the reflected light and blocking the direct sunlight. Find more about the project here.

  1. Terri Peters

Terri Peters spoke for “Superarchitecture: Daylight for Sustainability and Health”

*Daylight can create emotionally supported environments and has the power to connect people in the space.

* She presented projects that work very well with daylight and she focused on the health aspect. I was very inspired by their projects to design emotionally supportive space to encourage well being, reduce stress and design FOR ALL SENSES.  The multisensory design focuses on colors, patterns, surfaces, sounds, the variety of views etc. For example, in their project in Lady Citendo hospital in Australia, they worked with the views in the building, colors, and psychology, big windows which were framing the parks and a great roof that was used for recreation and recovery. so, HOW DO WE WANT BUILDINGS MAKE US FEEL?

3. Kynthia Chamilothori, LIPID UNIVERSITY, “Using Immersive virtual reality in lighting research and practice”.

I was very excited to meet Kynthia in the daylight symposium. I am very inspired by passionate people who are willing to share their knowledge and passion. It was very interesting to learn more about the virtual reality and the general path of Kynthia from the Greek University of Crete to the Lipid university as a PhD researcher. She was very enthusiastic to talk about her journey and give insights of her work. I am writing some of the highlights here:

* Virtual reality= portable experience, headtracking data, deals with subjective responses.

*Very interesting tool. She was exploring different types of immersive environments and manage to learn what people are feeling.

How dynamic daylight is?

The VR has both advantages and disadvantages. The 2D images lack immersion and space feeling while virtual reality makes you feel immersed. We can say that is at an early stage since it is not 100 % accurate to represent the light and the glare.

* We had the chance to experience in reality her Ph.D. research and although I felt very immersed into space, I was feeling that I am watching my surroundings from a very high level that wasn’t accurate.

*In her study, she concentrated on the patterns and she concluded that the chaotic and not “ordinary physical patterns” are more attractive to people than the ordered and orthogonal patterns that are more natural.

4. Jakob Stromann- Andersen, Henning Larsen Architects, “Creative activity-based learning and office environments require a new way of designing daylight”

That was one of the most interesting and inspiring lectures for me. They compared Gentofte and Albertslund schools which the one was designed intuitively by Henning Larsen Architects and the other one was designed according to the calculations and standards for offices. He concludes that the “VARIED ENVIRONMENT attracts and inspire people”. When we introduce dynamic lighting into the space, ACOUSTICS are very important. HOW CAN WE CREATE SPACE WITH DAYLIGHT?

He explained the DILEMMA between Inspirational light (Varied distribution of light) and Functional light (even distribution). In their case study for a school in Aarhus, where people experimented with light variations in daylight and artificial light, the students were free to use the space. Pupils could sit in the window. The window was taking part in the educational process. I was very inspired by that, how the architecture and lighting design can support the educational process. From their case study, they concluded that students performed better with the lighting variation.




5. Omar Gandhi (CA), “Using natural light as a tool for creating a strong architectural narrative”

Another very inspiring lecture by a famous young architect. In all of his projects, he works with physical models. As he said, the models help him to understand the structure of the building and the light.

* USE of local textures and materials.

* I liked very much the windows and the volumes that he is creating by rotating and experiment with the building as well as the way he decided to present his project. Storytelling is a very important tool!!

6. Laura Johnston Durham University (UK), “En’Light’en: an exploration of light and sensation”

I enjoyed this lecture very much. Laura Johnston is an artist and I found very interesting and creative her approach. She is researching the effect of light on sick people. She creates light art installations in hospital entrances and she is trying to change the image of the hospital room to something creative that can help the experience of the sick people and make them recover faster.

*The problem with the hospitals is that the rooms are always closed from the outside world. There are long corridors with no daylight and no view connections to the outside or to the sky. In order to make better the rooms, she is working with light reflections, colorful paintings, sky mirrors and installations that can mimic the view to the outside.

There are many things that we can do to change the lighting conditions and help the emotions of people. 1. Ambient light, every person according to his preferences can choose the preferable color. 2. creating a view where there is no view, 3. Creating Kinetic light effects by mimicking the nature and the trees movement. (Mobile installations with filters that can move, reflective, dynamic light shelves) In a project in a charity hospital in Berlin, they created a sky above the people and they added sound as well. It was very effective, and Laura said that is very important to connect the feelings with the 5 senses.

7. Anne Lacaton, “Freedom of use” 

*Buildings are beautiful when people feel good into them. Anne focuses on the bioclimate concepts, work with sunlight and ventilation and creates WINTER GARDENS. They start designing from the interior. It is an interesting and different approach from the other architects. The images of the winter gardens were very interesting for me as an interior architect. My concern is about the climate inside these spaces that are like greenhouses. In France, the climate is cold in the winter and very warm in the summer. The solar radiation can be very high and in the summer the extensions can be overheated. It seems that these spaces will be very warm during the summer and cold during the winter. I would like to experience these places by myself and understand the temperature issue. Visually, the sensation is very nice. It generates liveable spaces during the year focused on the daylight.

8. Dean Hawkes, “Twenty-five years of circadian living: a case study” 

Dean started his story by describing how he felt when he met Louis Kahn. Seems that this meeting changed his personality. In the presentation, he focused on his house where he lived with his wife 25 years. The house is like a watch where every single room is designed for a period of the day. The whole atmosphere is changing with every hour. I was very impressed by the design of this house. Very simple volumes and rooms, with different lighting conditions. I was inspired by this transformation through light. For example, the dining room is designed to catch the sun in a certain way and time.

* A beautiful small house where every zone has its PERSONALITY and LIGHT QUALITY.

9. James Carpenter, “Light in the public realm” 

James Carpenter has very interesting projects in his company portfolio. I am very impressed by the way they work with the glass, the transparency, and reflectance of light. How they create integrated shading systems in architectural buildings and work with the complexity of light. as he said, LIGHT HAS INFORMATION. During the Daylight course at KTH, we had the opportunity to have a Skype lecture with his partner Luke Lowings who described further details of their lighting projects.

10. Lone Wiggers, C.F. Moller, “Happy people in healthy architecture.”

Moller architects work a lot with the “state of well-being” and with minimalistic designs. Lone said that we should consider the human being with all its needs. I was inspired by their project in the technical Faculty SDU with the double facade. The inside layer is glass and the exterior layer is a concrete layer with circular holes that generates a pattern. The concrete works as a shading system. * Very important to add value in the building by daylight., qualities, openness, innovation and inspiration by the users. Priority to function and affordability over preciousness and luxury. She spoke about sound and structured sounds from the nature. It is true that the fake sound of water can destroy the “relaxing” effect. *Impacts of sunlight, people who are sitting next to the windows have better results. HOW TO PROVIDE DAYLIGHT FOR OPTIMAL LEARNING?


Finally, it was a very educational experience and we learned valuable information about the importance of Daylight as a design factor!! I am very thankful for this opportunity and I would like to express my gratitude to KTH Lighting laboratory for organizing this study trip as well as the Velux group who invited us to attend the symposium!!!


In this video created by Velux Group you can check some of the highlights. If you would like to check the videos from all the presentations you can check this link. 


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