Daylight in Buildings



Shama Martinie De Maisonneuvee


Gilles Cusy


Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Montpellier




Project Description

A PIECE OF SKY Our home is the place where we spend most of our time, the quality of its light and the air we breathe has a great physiological but also psychological impact on our health. Moreover, if we refer to the health events that the planet is going through, it is possible that we will invest more and more time there in the future, hence the importance of living in a pleasant place. Having established that today’s housing does not taking count of today’s concerns about light and ventilation, this project is looking at tomorrow’s light in housing. Today, many apartment buildings do not provide the necessary natural light, often toilets, bathrooms, and sometimes even kitchens do not have access to natural light or ventilation. Indeed, we have taken the task of lighting and ventilating these rooms to technology based on numbers, not feelings. We have based our approach to light solely on its mechanical and technical side. These sides are essential to the creation of pleasant living spaces, but they are not the only ones. This project, therefore, seeks to explore the poetic aspect of light, a light that reveals spaces and creates atmospheres. It is no longer enough to simply ask the question «how much lux does this room need?». But it is also necessary to ask «what kind of light does this room need?». To take care of all the qualities of light, a light poetic approach has to be included in projects. Its thermal and visual qualities, but also its sensory and emotional qualities. This project, using natural light as a premise for architecture, explores the relationship of light as a creator of space, and seeks to capture the natural light that comes from the sky. Its innovative objective is to offer each inhabitant of these dwellings a piece of sky. «The structure gives light, when you decide on the structure, you decide on the light». Louis Kahn. As Louis Kahn explains, space is the relationship between the structure that constitutes it and the light that animates it. So, when asked, «What kind of light does this room need?» We can answer it with another question, «What kind of structure does this room need?» This project, therefore, asks itself what kind of structure to adopt, and what shape it should take to capture the maximum amount of natural light and offer a piece of sky for everyone. A piece of sky is composed of three classic structural elements, which it adapts and transforms: the post, the beam and the slab. Each of these elements is worked in such a way as to bring light specifically into each room. Foremost, the posts are worked longitudinally, to design real inhabited walls. They are rounded at their ends, so as not to divide the light, but on the contrary, so that the light coats them and slides over them. An apartment is delimited by two walls, which include, on one side, the entrance for two apartments and their kitchens and on the other side, the bathrooms. Moreover, this project completely transforms the beams into gigantic inverted arches. Allowing, to capture the light from their empty interior, to redistribute it in a diffuse way inside the inhabited walls. Raised at its ends, the rounded beam calls for light, and depending on the time of day, makes it slowly flow along the walls or brings it directly into the space. This new emptiness, created by the beam between two apartments, makes it possible to offer this piece of sky to each inhabitant. And finally, the slab comes to rest on the beams, it allows the light to bounce and bounce back, thus accentuating the brightness of the apartments. Inside the apartment, the openings of the facades are placed at ground level, and at eye level, so as not to overpower the openings in the sky. This project, which seeks to offer a piece of sky to all, is based on a structure that captures light in alternative ways, and allows the illumination of each of the rooms that make up the apartment. Thus, Piece of sky is a search for the poetic approach of light as a founding element of tomorrow’s architecture.