Roof lanterns – maximising natural light in your house

Light, spacious and airy living environments always seem to have a therapeutic effect, lifting our spirits and transforming our mood, just like a fantastic view from a window or a bright sunny morning.  We have a natural human desire for the changes brought about by the seasons, the weather and the time of day and these sensory stimuli contribute to our general feeling of well being and happiness. For this reason, introducing as much natural light into your home as you can will improve your well-being.

  

The controlled use of natural lighting in architectural design, often referred to as daylighting, can reduce or eliminate the need for electric lighting in a working area or living environment.  Clever design can offer considerable savings in energy costs whilst reducing carbon emissions and our individual carbon footprint. The most obvious method for daylighting in architectural design is via windows and doors but, in period properties in particular, the scope for alteration may be limited by design or planning restrictions.
However, there are clever alternatives available such as clerestories, skylights, light tubes, roof lanterns and bi-folding doors that can offer solutions for both restoration projects as well as new construction.

Continue reading about ways to introduce and maximise the use of natural light in your home, in our recent article published in Country Life

Maximising natural light in your house with roof lanterns

 

Making the most of natural light in your house saves money and is friendlier to the environment, not to mention making dark spaces much more conducive to work or relaxation.
Light, spacious and airy living environments always seem to have a therapeutic effect, lifting our spirits and transforming our mood, just like a fantastic view from a window or a bright sunny morning.  We have a natural human desire for the changes brought about by the seasons, the weather and the time of day and these sensory stimuli contribute to our general feeling of well being and happiness. For this reason, introducing as much natural light into your home as you can will improve your well-being.
The controlled use of natural lighting in architectural design, often referred to as daylighting, can reduce or eliminate the need for electric lighting in a working area or living environment.  Clever design can offer considerable savings in energy costs whilst reducing carbon emissions and our individual carbon footprint.  The most obvious method for daylighting in architectural design is via windows and doors but, in period properties in particular, the scope for alteration may be limited by design or planning restrictions.
However, there are clever alternatives available such as clerestories, skylights, light tubes, roof lanterns and bi-folding doors that can offer solutions for both restoration projects as well as new construction.
Historically, a clerestory is an architectural term that refers to the upper level of a Roman basilica or the nave of a Romanesque or Gothic church and describes a high wall with a band of narrow windows along the top, usually rising above the adjoining roofs.  In modern terms, it refers to any high windows which are above eye level and can bring light and/or fresh air into an inner space where lower level windows are not feasible.  This could be a useful feature where there are planning issues about windows overlooking adjoining properties and could be incorporated within existing properties as well as brick-built extensions.
house 3A horizontal window placed on the roof of a building is referred to as a skylight and can include direct glazed windows, pivoting windows such as Velux style windows and roof lanterns or lantern lights.  Direct glazed and pivoting windows are usually used on pitched roofs and are useful when converting an attic space for habitation especially where permission for a dormer window has been denied.
Where the roof is flat, an individually-constructed timber roof lantern will create a room which is bathed in natural light whilst providing a stunning architectural feature and dramatic views of the sky above. Terraced houses, by the nature of their design, are often starved of natural lighting as light is limited to the front and rear of the property and a flat roof extension combining both a roof lantern and bi-folding doors will introduce much needed natural lighting to otherwise dark and gloomy rooms.
Like modern versions of traditional orangeries, flat roofed garden and day rooms incorporating roof lanterns, windows and bi-folding doors are becoming increasingly popular additions to period homes and offices, providing additional living space for lounging, working, dining or cooking which is bathed in natural light.
Unlike their Victorian and modern day single glazed counterparts, these structures benefit from new glazing technology ensuring that they can be used throughout the year, remaining warm and dry during the winter and maintaining comfortable temperatures during the sunny summer months.  In general, new extensions to historic and traditional buildings should comply with the standards of energy efficiency as set out in the current Building Regulations so they should be double glazed to ensure that valuable heat is not lost through the glass.
Modern solar control finishes reduce heat transfer from the sun and self cleaning properties ensure a maintenance free structure which is particularly valuable where access for cleaning is limited.  When manufactured in timber with an aluminium dry glazing system to the exterior surfaces, a lantern offers the beauty of a natural product on the interior whilst providing a practical, maintenance free solution on the exterior which is guaranteed to be water tight, as opposed to the past when they used to leak!
A light tube or solar tube placed into a roof can admit light into an interior that’s currently dark because it doesn’t have direct access to the exterior surfaces of the building where windows or skylights could otherwise be fitted.  From the transparent, roof mounted dome which collects the light, it is sent via a reflective coated tube to a diffuser which admits daylight into your once dark hallway or en-suite bathroom conversion, for example. Whilst not particularly attractive in their own right, they can reduce the need for electric lighting during daylight hours and create a more attractive ambience in a space that would otherwise be dark.
          installing a roof lantern in period property          
The owners of this large, detached property in East Sussex wanted to replace the existing small, dark and cramped kitchen within the property with a more spacious and light extension where they could entertain guests and enjoy their beautiful, mature garden in comfort despite the vagaries of the British weather.
            3 roof lanterns in kitchen             
They commissioned an extensive flat roof extension to house their kitchen and dining area which was designed with three, double hipped roof lanterns, a set of eight leaved, fully glazed bi-folding doors and one complete wall of windows for maximum light.
Whether you are restoring or planning an extension to your property, there are many creative ways to introduce or maximise the use of natural lighting whilst being sympathetic to the style of the existing building.
** NB Alterations and extensions to Listed Properties will always require Listed Building Consent from your local planning authority.
This article was originally featured in Country Life magazine an eclectic weekly publication covering a wide variety of subjects, such as architecture, property, the arts, gardens and gardening, the countryside, schools and wildlife.
                                  
roof lantern image

Room with a View – Garden rooms for beautiful homes and gardens

At long last the winter seems to be coming to an end and spring is just around the corner.  At this time of the year our thoughts start to turn toward the great outdoors and making plans for our gardens as we witness the few new shoots of life on trees and shrubs and enjoy the lovely spring daffodils and tulips that are starting to emerge from their winter sojourn.  The days are longer and we are all anxious to make the most of the increasing hours of daylight but, with still a slight chill to the air, we need to protect ourselves from the cold.

This is the time when the garden room comes into its own.  A place where you can enjoy the extended hours of daylight, still sheltered from the chilly winds, and enjoy basking in the sun coming through the windows.  Modern conservatory designs have become increasingly sophisticated as they are required to be fully functional, year round rooms often housing kitchen extensions, dining or living rooms.  Incorporating lantern roofs and bi-folding doors in addition to windows and fixed lights and set within a brick framework, rather like a modern day orangery, they are insulated against the cold and heated so that they offer a permanent extension to the existing property, used throughout the year and not just during the summer and spring. Top tips for conservatory inspiration from Homes and Gardens at http://www.idealhome.co.uk/Conservatories, where they feature a small conservatory with a Parsons Joinery roof lantern at picture 5 which is also featured in our Case Study ‘Roof Lantern Lewes’.

New developments in glazing technology have revolutionised the design and development of the modern conservatory.  All of us remember sitting in single glazed, unheated conservatories that could only be used during warmer weather and then, during summer, become unusable spaces as the sun scorched through the glass, destroying the furniture and fabrics beneath.  To alleviate this problem, we recommend the use of solar control glass in our roof lanterns and often in bi-folding doors and windows, especially for conservatories with a south facing aspect.

If you want to talk to us about solar control glass for your roof lantern call us now on 01273 814870

After much research, our product of choice is Pilkington Activ Neutral glass which offers both solar control and self cleaning properties.  Combined with insulating double glazed units, your garden room will retain heat in the winter and heating costs will be reduced.  However, in the summer, the solar control finish will keep temperatures cooler whilst still maintaining excellent light transmittance.  With the aluminium capping system on the exterior of the lantern and the self clean finish, a lantern light will be virtually maintenance free as this dual action finish both breaks down organic dirt and helps it to be washed away by any rainfall.  Additionally, this special finish improves vision through the glass while raining and, as the water dries quickly, reduces streaking.  With a slight grey tint, Activ neutral complements standard clear glass and, if only the self cleaning finish is required, Pilkington Activ is virtually indistinguishable from clear glass.

 

Roof lanterns and bi-folding doors introduce more light into period properties

resize_Parsons-1154

Many period properties have been designed with thick walls and small windows to keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Whilst these qualities help them to be energy efficient throughout the year in terms of the cost of heating or cooling the environment, rooms can be dark and gloomy particularly during the winter, requiring excessive use of electric lighting even during the daytime.  Terraced houses, by the nature of their design, are often starved of natural lighting as light is limited to the front and rear of the property.

In addition to reducing or eliminating the need for electric lighting at work or at home, the introduction of additional daylight into a property can have a therapeutic effect, lifting our spirits and giving us a general feeling of well being. We have a natural human desire for change which is brought about by the seasons, the weather and the time of day.  The direction of natural light provides shadow patterns which inform the appearance of objects and surfaces, giving them the appearance that we associate with the natural world.

The most obvious method for introducing daylight into a building is via windows and doors but these often cannot be altered in period and protected properties. Other devices such as skylights, light tubes, and roof lanterns within the existing structure or in new extensions are becoming increasingly popular alternatives for both new and period homes.

Use roof lanterns and bi-folding doors

Like modern versions of traditional orangeries, flat roofed garden and day rooms incorporating roof lanterns, windows and bi-folding doors are becoming increasingly popular additions to period and traditional homes and offices, providing additional living space for lounging, working, dining or cooking which is bathed in natural light.  In general, new extensions to historic and traditional buildings should comply with the standards of energy efficiency as set out in the current Building Regulations so can benefit from new glazing technology – double glazing, solar control and easy clean finishes.

Roof lanterns
and bi-folding doors can also be used to transform the appearance and functionality of an existing extension or flat roof.

*Alterations and extensions to Listed Properties will always require Listed Building Consent from your local planning authority and can qualify for a reduction in VAT.

Daylighting in design

Daylighting in architectural design is the controlled use of natural lighting in a working or living environment in order to reduce or eliminate the need for electric lighting. Historically, before the electric light was invented, designing buildings so that daylight could enter interior spaces was a necessity yet, despite a long history of using daylighting as a design strategy, building owners, architects, engineers and lighting designers are only just learning how to use it effectively and new glazing technology is opening up a wealth of opportunities in these areas.

The art and science of good daylighting design today is not so much how to provide enough daylight to an occupied space, but how to do so without any undesirable side effects. It is a careful balance between heat gain and loss, glare control and the variations in daylight availability. The increased use of glass in building design combined with innovative technological advances in glass and glazing could reduce the cost of energy whilst reducing carbon emissions and our individual carbon footprint.

Why the renewed interest in daylighting?

1. The high cost of fossil fuels
2. The realisation that sources of electricity have a finite life

A good daylighting design can save up to 75% of the energy used for electric lighting in a building. Additionally, electric lights also generate significant heat in a building and, in summer, savings can be made in the energy used to cool a building. The use of solar control and low emissivity glass can help to reduce capital outlay, running costs and the associated carbon emissions of a building. Solar control glass is used to minimise solar heat gain by rejecting solar radiation and help to control glare. Low emissivity glass can reduce heat loss while allowing high levels of free solar gain to heat buildings with no significant loss in natural light.

3. Human factors – daylight contributes to a feeling of well-being

We have a natural human desire for change which is brought about by the seasons, the weather and the time of day. The direction of natural light provides shadow patterns which give objects and surfaces the appearance that we associate with the natural world. Sunlight has a therapeutic effect and lifts our spirits as does a view from a window. Natural colour may vary throughout the day but it is the standard by which colour is judged. Have you ever worked in an office with no natural lighting – what affect did it have on your productivity and your enjoyment of your working activity? Do shopping centres devoid of natural lighting make you feel disorientated and confused about the passage of time?

The Code for Sustainable Homes awards points for good daylighting design under category 7, Health and Well-Being. As a national standard for use in design and construction, The Code for Sustainable Homes is an environmental assessment method for rating and certifying the performance of new homes and through this standard aims to encourage continuous improvement. There are three points available, one awarded for an average daylight factor of a least 2% for kitchens, one for an average daylight factor of a least 1.5% in living rooms, dining rooms and studies and the final point is awarded if at least 80% of the working plane in these rooms receives natural light. For further information go to http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/code_for_sustainable_homes_techguide.pdf

Whilst windows and doors are the most obvious method used for daylighting, other devices such as skylights, rooflights, clerestories and light tubes can provide light which penetrates deep within the building.