Have you ever pondered why everyone is a little extra glum and grim with the impending winter months? When the days become shorter, so do our tempers, our ability to weather an emotional storm and our aptitude for rational behaviour—the answer could very well lie in the amount of natural light our bodies receive. When light hits our retinas, our bodies transmit signals to the hypothalamus, an endocrine gland that controls and secretes hormones such as melatonin directly into our bloodstream. The more light we experience, the more melatonin we receive. The effect of lighting on the neurological and endocrine system is well documented and many scientists have claimed that the volume of sunlight we acquire is directly related to the regulation of our emotions, our happiness, sadness and how we feel mentally and psychologically.
With that knowledge in mind, it is imperative we design our interior spaces to incorporate as much natural light as possible, open up our dark, dreary rooms and ensure that we utilise smart efficient design to promote light flow and create areas that encourage positive behavioural responses.
Atriums were originally used by the Ancient Romans to provide light and ventilation to an area of a dwelling. They were generally large open spaces located centrally, and provided copious amounts of air and sunlight. Over the years the modern atrium has undergone a transformation, with glazed rooves, large windows or as a centrepiece for a home, and atriums these days are only limited by an architects imagination. When light is at a minimum, it’s time to think outside the box, and this design has done just that—stylishly designed with maximising light in mind, this home’s interior stairwell takes on another use: a lightwell. Ensuring those afflicted with vertigo remain on the ground floor, this ingenious use of glass as hallway flooring is guaranteed to make the most of what little light the space would normally receive and instead maximise the area's openness and usability.
Not quite an atrium, yet still inspirationally procured from the original idea of filling a room with bountiful light and air, this wonderfully sunny and elegant dining space utilises atrium-intuitive elements to provide luminosity to the kitchen space. Instead of designing an area that is potentially poky or dark, take some cues from this smart design and think brilliant and bright.
Do you have a space in your home that is ripe for renovation or refurbishment? If so, consider a project that maximises light and infuses you home with a sense of bright soulfulness in the form of a sunlit conservatory. Obviously we may not all be blessed with as much space as seen in this example, but a even a smaller, glass or atrium styled ceiling can infuse our home with a sense of airiness and freedom.
Not exactly an atrium, but bright and sunny nonetheless, the ultimate in ‘making the most of light’ this glass cube with sunken dining table evokes a feeling of non-conformity and incorporates the outdoors into the home through extensive use of glass.
Often we shy away from incorporating glass ceilings into our bedroom spaces—the thought of streaming sunlight in the morning when we wish to sleep in, or the inability to shut out the bright moonlight is enough of a deterrent. However, with the advent of advanced programmed shutters, a bright atrium style ceiling in the bedroom can bring many benefits. Think camping under the stars without the bugs, and enjoy what the natural sunlight can do to the ambience of your most important restful space.
This striking example indicates what can be achieved with the smart use of atrium inspired design—a garden space in its own right, this interior lightwell combines the objectives of Ancient Roman atriums with contemporary and modern architectural design. Rope swings hang from an interior branch while the floor to ceiling glass allows plentiful light to stream in and fill the space with open, fashionable breeziness.