by Durand Seay
Taking you on a journey to understand how light determines residential design.
| When architects are engaged to design a home, they recognize that they design homes for all budgets. However, there are quintessential elements to great residential design that goes beyond that of budget. The most central element is the incorporation of natural light. It is human nature that we desire, seek it out, bringing us well being. Light organizes and establishes how and when we complete each day. The following is a story of a child which enlightens us as to just what should be considered.
As a child, he would spend Friday nights with the grandparents at their home so that his mother and father could enjoy their evening. Then Saturday morning, there he was ready to watch cartoons very early in the den next to the kitchen. The sun, streaming into the kitchen windows facing the east, contributed to the warmth of that first cup of coffee pursued by the grandmother and grandfather. Soon after breakfast, they all would take a ride to the market. On many occasions, there was a purchase of peas, unshelled of course, by the bushel.
As the day progressed, to prepare for dinner that night, the child was put to work shelling those peas along side his grandmother out on the porch. You could reach it from the kitchen breakfast table area at the rear of the house. It faced west and it overlooked the prideful garden of camellias and azaleas under the pine trees. With enameled metal bowls in their laps, gentle conversation, and greened figures, they would reach into the basket to get more to shell, filling the bowls up so meticulously to not loose one pea. The sun setting here was always so glorious, warming them before heading back to the kitchen to check how the roast was doing and prepare those peas for the salted fat back bath.
The design process engages clients on a personal level. Fond memories come to light, but are sometimes unable to express what it was that made what it was they loved about some place so wonderful. Light is always the first step to understanding. So, the first question that should be evaluated in that process is, “Are you an early riser and enjoy seeing the sun rise?” If so (to never be required to turn on a light to reach the kitchen) it will have that morning sun exposure. East light exposure instills the warmth to light your way to the coffee pot. And of course, a west facing covered porch, overlooking the garden will warm us as we prepare for our dinners.