Don’t Turn on That Light!

Sun in Empty Room - Edward Hopper


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This is part of the pattern language developed by TKWA for the Cincinnati Nature Center.

Turning a light on in a building during the day should be a sin. The way daylight enters a building has tremendous impact on the well-being of occupants, provides visual delight and conserves valuable resources.


To ensure the proper daylighting of the Visitors Center, employ a variety of design strategies; Don’t make the floor-plates too wide (30-35′ max.), provide interior and/or exterior sun shelves to reflect direct light onto ceilings, select appropriate glass type for each room use, utilize diffused light in clerestories and west facing windows. Automatically dim artificial light sources when daylight is providing adequate illumination.

Tom Kubala is principal of The Kubala Washatko Architects.
Tom Kubala

3 Comments to “Don’t Turn on That Light!”

  1. bobtheis

    given the automatic reflex of many people to reach for the switch as part of entering a room, what we need is a different gesture of entry. And perhaps a light switch you can’t find until the room is sufficiently dark.

    • Tom Kubala

      Tom Kubala

      Thanks for the input. Your comment may lead us to rethink lighting controls, especially when daylight harvesting is critical to the building’s energy profile. We go back and forth between automatic and user controlled lighting switches, right now trending toward user-control.

  2. bobtheis

    Don’t have a solution yet, but here’s another insight that may help: when there is moveable seating in a park, you see people “claim” the chair by moving it, even if it’s only six inches.
    I suspect switching on the light has a similar function, i.e. ” The room is now mine; I changed it. ” Can the controls momentarily brighten the room when the switch is flicked, then slowly dim to the level actually needed?

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