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  • Writer's pictureTim Rhodes, RA., AIA

Controlling Heat + Encouraging Sunlight

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Rhodes Architecture + Light designs homes that prioritize natural light, enhance overall well-being, and reduce energy use for lighting and heating. Controlling sunlight in the warmer parts of the year is a critical factor in developing a comprehensive daylighting strategy.

We emphasize glass (windows and skylights) to bring natural light into interior spaces. Homeowners have noted that with natural daylighting, the use of manufactured lighting is often unnecessary–even during our dark winters. Using low-maintenance designed elements–well-sunshades, awnings, and “bries soleil”–makes this possible while shading the interiors of our buildings in hotter months. The bries soleil is essentially an open grid with angled louvers mounted above and outside windows and doors, designed to block higher angled summer sun and allow lower winter sunlight into the interior.

“Our lamps are in the garage. We have all the light we need in here. We have one floor lamp in the whole house and it’s decorative. It’s amazing to think you can build a whole house and not put one lamp in.”

– Homeowner

The Point Roberts Residence is an example of careful use of sunlight, using fixed (non-mechanical) louvered aluminum bries soleil, attached to the exterior of the residence and maintenance-free, RA+L designed for the latitude and longitude of the site. Our use of advanced Revit software allows Rhodes Architecture to plan the size, depth, and louver angle and to “test” these in virtual modeling. The resulting shades are an elegant accent to the home’s openings, allow rainwater to pass through, and can be finished in bright colors.

For homes that orient to southern and western views, we’ve introduced deeper windows and door openings to help shade the interiors. At the Lowman Beach Residence, we pushed large bi-folding doors into the body of the house to control the amount of southern and western light introduced (and manage heat gain in hotter months). Again, the higher summer sun angles, especially in the Pacific Northwest, mean that the summer sun is blocked by the deep overhangs while winter sunlight and daylight penetrate the home.

Our Norway Hills Residences, east of Seattle, use deep-roofed trellises to lend protected outdoor space to the houses but these deep canopies blocked a lot of sunlight from penetrating the interior. By adding upper clerestory glass above these canopies, we allowed the house to open to the exterior, even in rainstorms, while adding significant daylighting below the main roof overhangs to the spaces within.

+ Light is an integral part of our name because we believe that both designed and natural lighting is crucial for our client’s homes- promoting wellness, reducing seasonal affective disorder, making our homes more livable and increasing energy efficiency through natural methods.

“You know, the lighting part I'm really happy with. And one of the reasons that I was excited about them is because they're Rhodes Architecture + Light and I think lighting is its own art form.”

– Homeowner

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