Designing for light and sun Print

Desi​gn Checklist

  1. The building is located and orientated to make the best use of sunlight to apartments and open spaces, and provides a good balance between maximising winter sun, and providing shade from summer sun 
  2. Daylight access is always provided in all habitable rooms and is provided wherever possible in all other areas of apartment buildings
  3. The development allows residents to adjust natural lighting to suit their needs​​​
Daylight consists of skylight (diffuse light from the sky) and sunlight (direct beam radiation from the sun).

These change with the time of day, season, and weather conditions. Access to this variability, as well as having adequate levels of daylight without overheating, contribute to a pleasant living environment.

Within an apartment, natural daylight reduces the reliance on artificial light, improving energy efficiency and amenity for residents.

Solar access (skylight and sunlight) to apartments within the development and to adjacent developments can be optimised with careful orientation of the buildings and the use of specific design techniques.​​

Better Design Practice

Plan the site to optimise solar access by:
  • Orientating buildings to maximise north-facing walls.
  • Providing adequate building separation within the development and from adjacent buildings.
  • Using dual aspect apartments when the long elevation of the building faces east and west.
  • Avoiding single aspect apartments with a southern aspect. 

Optimise the number of apartments that receive daylight to habitable rooms and principal windows by:
  • Ensuring daylight access to habitable rooms and private open space, particularly in winter. It is not acceptable to use light wells as a sole means of natural light to habitable rooms.
  • Using skylights, clerestory windows and fanlights to supplement daylight access
  • Considering two-storey and mezzanine arrangements to increase daylight access to the living rooms and private open spaces of apartments with limited daylight (e.g. ground floor apartments) 

Limiting the depth of single aspect apartments:
  • Locating living areas to the north and service areas to the south of apartments.

Design for summer shading and glare control by:
  • ​Using shading devices, such as eaves, awnings, colonnades, balconies, pergolas, external louvres and planting​
  • Providing external horizontal shading to north-facing windows
  • Providing vertical shading to west windows.

Rules of Thumb

At least 70 per cent of living rooms and private open spaces in a development should receive a minimum of three hours direct sunlight between 9am and 3pm in mid-winter

Single aspect apartments with a southerly aspect (southwest to southeast) should account for a maximum of 10 per cent of the total units proposed. Developments that do not meet this minimum should be able to demonstrate how site constraints and orientation prohibit these standards from being achieved, and how issues of energy efficiency will be addressed

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