August 1, 2014

Light + Heat


The built environment exists within a larger natural environment, through which it captures, celebrates, and calibrates the behavior of the sun, the movement of wind, the passing of time, and the changing of the seasons. Since the conception of the very first shelter, architects have sought to configure matter and volume in order to achieve the perfect balance of light and heat.

The correlation between light and heat, and the techniques for balancing them, directly influence our ability to create more comfortable, energy efficient, and contextual spaces. Of the many forms of kinetic energy, which also include motion and sound, light and heat have poly-scalar effects at the individual, building-wide, and urban scales. The sun – earth’s primary provider of energy – continually influences the human condition through building temperature and illumination levels. The building skin is the critical element in these passive tuning processes.

By combining local site and climate analyses, advanced tools, iterative data visualizations, and post-occupancy studies, we can develop a deeper sense of the body’s relationship to the sun, wind, and built environment. Innovative building methods, including the implementation of passive technologies that work with nature’s innate expressions of light and heat, will help us further embed our buildings within the wisdom of the natural environment.

In exploring Light + Heat, we will delve into questions like:
+ How can a building harness the natural conditions of the environment to achieve comfort?
+ How does architecture frame and manipulate light and heat to provide opportunities for communion with the forces of nature and the passing of time?
+ What can we learn from the historic districts in NYC, built before mechanical comfort systems were available?