Sketchbook Chronicles N.003

 

– Architecture with a social spin: an initiative for a school in Guatemala from Architecture Sans Frontieres.
– The ancient craft of hand-blown cylinder glass.
– Natural materials for the future: environmentally friendly engineered wood and hempcrete introducing hemp to traditional concrete techniques.
– Goldsmith Street: a new direction for social housing.

You can read the full version of the Sketchbook Chronicles issue N.003 here.

Five residential architecture tricks to introduce light in your home

 

We have heard it time and again: a house with good light is a good house. But what is just as true is that not all properties come with the amounts of natural light we would like to have. That is why architects, engineers and designers have come up with clever ways of allowing those precious rays of sunlight into the very depths of your home. We would like to present to you five different ways to make your home brighter with natural light: from extensions to small renovations, rearrangements, or additions, read below and find out how you can turn that dark living room into a room full of light.

Rooflights

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This is probably the most straight-forward way of bringing in light, and one of the most effective too! Allowing the light to come in from the top will get you more than sunlight: the ambient light from the sky will get inside the room even when the sun isn’t shining, and during all daylight hours. A skylight is your best bet on the rooms just under the roof – we are talking about that dark attic or loft space that has so much uncovered potential… And there’s more! An additional benefit from installing a skylight is that it will significantly increase the head height in the area since the thickness of the glazing is so much less than that of the roof – you could win up to 300mm in height. Not bad, right? All in all, skylights are a universal win-win.

Glazed extensions

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If you are familiar with our projects, you will know that this is one of our favourite strategies. Glazed extensions serve a double purpose: you get more internal floor area in the ground floor, making your living room or kitchen much, much ampler, and you let in an incredible amount of light both in the new extension and in the existing portion of the house that will be connected to it. The positive change that a glazed extension makes to a home never fails to amaze… if you’re thinking of making a single change to your home, this may be the one that gives you the most value.

Room reconfigurations

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Room reconfigurations are a small way of making a potentially big difference. If your room is dimly lit, make sure that your furniture faces the light and that there is nothing blocking its path. If there is a room that receives no light at all, think about getting rid of the wall that separates it from the next, better lit, room. This will require some tweaking in terms of use and furniture, but sometimes replacing a wall with a shelf or a soft partition allows you to retain the differentiation between the rooms without having to give up all the natural light in one of them.

Internal windows

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It may be counterintuitive to have a room with a window into another room, but this strategy can be really helpful for getting some light into the heart of the house. It is particularly helpful for rooms like bathrooms, or utility rooms: a frosted window into a naturally-lit corridor or into an adjacent room will take care of letting some soft natural light in without compromising privacy. What’s more, it will make the room feel bigger too, and you can take advantage of the new opening and use it as a shelf. Simple but effective!

Sun tunnels

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This technology is slowly finding its way into the residential world, and it is a very clever solution for those rooms in which you thought it was just not possible to have sunlight. Here’s how: a flue-like tube pops up over the roof, all clad in highly reflected panels that are angled in such a way that the light that reflects on them from the top bounces downwards to hit the next panel, and so on. What you have, in the end, is a game of mirrors that can bring the same sunlight you have at roof level down to seven stories below. This can work for ground floor kitchens, isolated rooms at the centre of the house, and even basements.

Embracing imperfection: wabi-sabi and Japanese aesthetics

 

Here at RISE Design Studio, you could say that wabi-sabi is “part of our DNA”. A world view that stems from Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is the acceptance of transience and imperfection. It can include asymmetry and simplicity, as well as an appreciation of the integrity of natural objects and processes. Or, put simply, it is all about celebrating the beauty of a naturally imperfect world.

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Natural and light

A wabi-sabi house is filled with air and light. Soft, natural lines allow us to find beauty in asymmetry, and a strong connection with nature is achieved through natural materials such as wood, stone and clay. Wabi-sabi also seeks to reduce the number of objects in the home that we don’t need, without making the home feel cold or sterile (a house is, after all, a place to be lived in). The spaces are warm and welcoming, thanks to the use of natural colours and materials, particularly wood and stone. Colours also tend to be inspired by nature, bringing balance and serenity to the home.

Embracing imperfection and authenticity

Wabi-sabi has cultural and historic links with the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. If you haven’t experienced this, the atmosphere is generally calm and relaxing with simple routines that centre on the tea. Often, the crockery used in the ceremony is faded or damaged, as a result of being passed down the generations. A fantastic example of wabi-sabi is the art of ‘kintsugi’, which is where cracked pottery is filled with a form of gold-dusted lacquer to showcase the beauty of its age, rather than hiding it.

In the home, choosing authentic furnishings creates a lived, harmonious space. Sourcing furniture that has been passed down through the generations allows each scratch to add to the narrative of that object’s history. It also alllows us to turn away from the ‘throwaway’ culture that we are learning is so damaging to our environment, to appreciate the ‘true and humble’ that wabi-sabi emulates.

Existing in the now

Wabi-sabi can also be applied to your daily life. It is a state of mindfulness which involves ‘living in the now’ and finding satisfaction even when it’s easy to think the opposite. If you trace wabi-sabi all the way back to its roots, the Buddhist teachings of the ‘Three Marks of Existence’ would guide you to embrace impermanence, acknowledge that suffering is a part of life that can ultimately lead to growth, and accept that we are always in a state of flux.

In times when we might constantly compare ourselves to others, there is no harm in taking the time to appreciate what we have. It is this mindfulness and appreciation of the ‘now’, with all its imperfections, that we try to capture in our work.