On Capturing Natural Light

October 03, 2022

Part of understanding the natural environment of a project is learning the angles of the wind and the sun, and finding ways to harness the elements to our advantage. Using models from key times of year – the winter solstice, the summer solstice and the equinoxes – we can learn how a home will be lit year-round. If clients plan to spend a certain season in their home – like a summer beach home or winter ski retreat – we can even adapt the lighting to their preferences. While light and shadow change with each season, our software allows us to computer-generate visuals that simulate the real thing.

When visiting a site, our team analyzes the slope of the land, angling the home to the best vantage point to allow for optimal views. We consider where the strongest winds are coming from in order to protect outdoor space from heavy gusts, and how to install windows to create the perfect cross breeze. Each of the projects below showcase our carefully-considered site plans for projects that help situate them within their natural environments.

In the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, this Mountain Retreat sits atop a unique topography. To understand how light and shade spread over the house and landscape through the tree line, our designers created a model depicting the sun’s movement during specific key times, such as the afternoon on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

Landscape Shade Study: Berkshires Mountain Retreat

Below, a sun study of a Westchester home with views of NYC models how sunlight appears beneath the pergola throughout key times of day, followed by a photo of the resulting structure. To learn even more about how we connected this home to its natural environment, read the case study by Acelab here.

Sun Studies: Westchester Views House

In trying to understand how to best configure a solar shade above a sun-soaked pool at this Nantucket home, the team took a bird’s eye view approach.

Solar Shade Study: Nantucket Harbor Compound