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.

Restaurant design: Oklava, London

 

We recently designed the critically acclaimed Oklava restaurant in Shoreditch, East London. Chef Selin Kiazim serves contemporary Turkish cuisine and was widely praised for her ‘pop-ups’ at Carousel London in November 2014 and before that a residency at Trip Kitchen in Haggerston. We worked with Selin and Oklava Director Laura Christie in 2015 to remodel the ground floor of the existing former four-storey mill building on Luke Street to house a new restaurant, bar and private dining facilities.

Oklava restaurant design

Frontage

Oklava (the word in Turkish for a traditional rolling pin used to make bread, pastries and pides) is situated in the South Shoreditch Conservation Area. The materials, colour and configuration of the outside of the restaurant were designed to match the colour and shape of the existing windows on the upper floors and remain in keeping with the character of the building. Awnings over the external windows make the street a part of the restaurant and create a space for outdoor eating on warmer days.

Style

The restaurant is focussed around communal eating and encouraging conversations about food by sharing dishes between diners. With this in mind, the unique, trapezoidal space has a central focus of an under-lit bar table, one of which allows diners to feel part of the drama of watching their meals being prepared as they socialise and sample the delicacies on offer. Movable tables are placed in the space between the bars, allowing for flexibility for different table configurations.

Materials

The concept was to create a contemporary, timeless aesthetic. A stone oven and a real charcoal grill, known in Turkish as a ‘mangal’, are the two key cooking elements of the open kitchen. The drama of the open kitchen is framed by a under-lit heavyweight concrete clad bar with walnut worktop and lightweight suspended Black Mild Steel shelving. On entering you are greeted with a Black Mild Steel screen designed to restrict views through reclaimed copper-framed windows housed within, creating a sense of intrigue of the activity beyond. The reflectivity of the polished concrete floor animates the restaurant, reflecting the light from the bespoke designed copper pendant and black mild steel wall lights.

Bespoke features

Aiming to “pull Turkish cuisine out of the kebab shop and onto the London restaurant scene“, the restaurant has subtle lighting and an “aura of smart taste” (Tim Hayward, Financial Times). Bespoke lighting was designed, including Christie pendant lights made from brazed copper pipe to light up the movable tables.

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Read more about the remodelling of Oklava and see more images on the Oklava project page. We are currently working on other restaurant projects and welcome new enquiries.