If eyes are the window to the soul, windows are much more than the eyes of a building. More than providing a view out or in, they open your space to natural light, and admit cooling breezes, which are a delicate cocktail of sensory experiences serving four of five senses: Hearing, Sight, Smell and Touch.
Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan, describes the light of interiors as,
“the admixture of who knows how many doors ajar, windows casually curtained, unblinded or opened, oculi set into ceilings,wells, ports, shafts, loose fits, leaks, and other breaches of surface.”
Today we are showcasing how windows provide beautiful interior light to a number of our favorite projects, both residential and commercial. In blog format we can’t demonstrate the smell of a fresh spring breeze but we can clearly show the play of light across our spaces. The below image collages (some of windows, some of the space daylit by them), show the lustrous effect that bringing natural light into a space can provide.
Our redesign of a Ravenswood industrial garage into a light-filled tasting room and production facility for Begyle Brewing Company hinged around the idea of making the most from the least. In this case that meant replacing the grim but functional garage door with a new glass panel overhead door that floods the space with light.
Reflective and bright surfaces inside bounce the light around and simple reclaimed materials are highlighted by the delicate daylighting. Sunlight turns a a simple room form and practical, cleanable materials into a poetic space.
As important as having or adding windows, open spaces and pathways are needed to bring light deeply into a space. In our 2011 remodel of the Erie Street Loft, we opened spaces, removing walls, adding a glass floor to the upstairs hallway and generally unblocking the space.
We added an awning window (reclaimed and sourced from the Rebuilding Exchange) and doors at the same time as we re-arranged and oriented the kitchen to flow with the other living space rather than cutting it off from the window wall. The result is a warm interior space with an interplay of light which gives each area a unique character.
In Brew Tavern and Cafe, in Traverse City, Michigan, we peeled back 70 years of dirt, grime and funky looking remodelings of a historic Traverse City opera house to restore its original luster and charm. We also unblocked existing windows so that the maximum light could be invited back into the long space.
Rather than trying to bounce daylight all the way to the back of the interior we allowed it to transition from bright and cheery storefront to more dimly lit rear. The contrast of light and dark is infinitely more interesting than the consistent even illumination of a drop ceiling grid. Note how the daylight “washes” along the brick of the side walls, bringing out their texture and shine.
In the Vic Loft renovation completed last winter, we had plenty of light coming in from two sides of the main living space to start so the trick was not to cut off access to it in our modifications.
Our solution, the moveable bookshelf wall which can close off the sleeping area at night or be open to foster the movement of air and light (as well as people) during the day. We also added light in the walls between bedroom and hallway and over the bathroom door to share around the daylight even more generously.
As Japanese Architect, Yoshio Taniguchi, explains in his hope for people experiencing his work,
“architecture is basically a container of something. I hope they will enjoy not so much the teacup but the tea.”
In a very real sense, our buildings, done right, are containers for beautiful natural light.