Posted in Materials

materials final project board

For our final project in Materials, we were paired in groups to study certain systems of the Gatewood Studio Arts Building on the UNCG Campus.  My group consisted of Kathryn Frye, Brian Peck and I, and we studied the structural system.  We needed to note the different parts of the system and describe them, suggest ways that this system is sustainable/energy efficient and then offer recommendations for how it could be made better.  In addition, we needed to note the other systems that different groups were assigned and briefly touch on describing them too.

Posted in Materials


For our latest project in materials class, I formed a group with Brian Peck and Kathryn Frye to study the efficiency of the Germany Solar Decathlon house that I have previously researched in studio.  I built the structure in REVIT and then imported it into ECOTECT.  ECOTECT is a Sustainable Building Design Software program that we learned in class and it’s really amazing how much information it gives you.  For instance, you can import weather patterns and sun positions for cities all over the world so that you can see how your structure would be effected.   You can do a daylight analysis to determine how much natural daylight your interior environment would have and alter your design if needed prior to actually building the structure live.

Here are the images we completed.

Solar Geometry

Solar Radiation

Daylight Analysis

Posted in Lighting, Materials

R.L. Vanstory Class Trip

courtesy of

On Thursday, October 6, 2011, our materials class visited R.L. Vanstory Lighting company in Greensboro.  Richard Vanstory started the company 25 years ago and represents approximately 60 lighting manufacturers; both domestic and international.  He, along with two of his workers, John Gohn and Joe, gave us alot of information about each of their specialties.

John is a specification sales manager and specializes in color, fluorescent lamps and ballasts.  Bob entered the business four years ago and is extremely knowledgeable in LED lamps.  Before we were given a tour of their facility, Bob showed us a variety of interior and exterior options for LED lighting. He nearly blinded us with an older LED lamp that had a higher glare and no diffusers.  Once on the tour, we saw how they used their facility as a showroom to display various color lamps and styles.  Prior to leaving, Joe gave us each his card as well as a handout on ‘visibility curves’.  He also gave us a tip on wall-washing; the setback should be 20-25% of the wall height.

Overall, it was very informative and interesting.  At times it was overwhelming due to the incredible amount of information they gave us, however I found it all useful and a helpful addition to our class material.  You can check out their website at

Posted in Lighting, Materials

Threaded Refraction

Above is an 11×17 poster depicting our light box. For this assignment we had complete freedom to manipulate light as we pleased within a 12×12 box. In this exploration, we created a box within a box. The main light effect below, and described above as “threaded refraction”, was created by stringing fishing line through a series of holes cut with a laser at UNCG’s CAM studio. On this 11×11 box within its outer frame, three sides are adorned with peep-holes to see the result.  The oculus on top gives light to the glittering effect. This box uses both electric and natural light and a string of lights lines the bottom of the 12×12 box both adding to the glittering effect of the box within, but also letting light out of the organically shaped cut out on the exterior of our light box as a whole.

Posted in Lighting, Materials

Putting Light In Its Place

photo credit:

From the time we are born, humans are exposed to the myriad of relationships that light has in our world.  From the room we were born in, to a walk in the park with a parent at mid-day, we are confronted with how light affects our well being and surroundings.  Understanding how we experience it will lead us, as designers, to help create thoughtful design that brings comfort to those who experience it.

According to Marietta Millet in the book “Light Revealing Architecture”[i], there are three types of lighting for design. The first is called Focal Glow.  This type of lighting commands attention and interest, such as a sunburst through the clouds.  The second is called Ambient Luminescence.  This minimizes importance and suggests a freedom from space, such as the glow of the sun through a tent.  The last is Play of Brilliants.  This quickens the appetite and heightens sensations.  It can be either distracting or entertaining, such as a walk down Las Vegas Blvd.  Each of these lighting types has their place in our lives to create a setting, commonly referred to as the “experience”.  Because we can only know what we experience, each lighting pattern we see reminds us of events prior.  Where we were, what we were doing and whom we were with.  It has a sort of sentimental value to us, and that memory influences the intensity of our new experiences of light in different spaces.

Lighting in our homes consists of overhead, floor and possibly table lighting.  There are incandescent, energy efficient and many other types of lamps that can affect our space.  Whether it’s noticeable or not, this light has an affect on you and what you do within your surroundings.  In my home, I have table lighting on each night table in my bedroom.  Usually only one of them is used.  There is an overhead light on a ceiling fan that I rarely use.  The genius loci I am trying to create, is one of peace and tranquility.  It is a place for resting; recouping the energy lost each day.  The lighting is low, yet sufficient and during the day, I generally require only natural light from the two windows on opposite walls.  Knowing that I would fall asleep if homework was attempted in my bedroom, due to inadequate reading light, I complete homework in my home studio.  Here I have better task lighting with a desk and overhead lamps. In addition, there are two large windows on one wall, and a few bushes and trees that shield the afternoon direct sunlight into this room.  Instead, an ambient luminescence is achieved creating a more pleasing reading environment with few shadows.  I am able to tackle my work without the distractions of fighting sleep.

The climate is another area that determines how much light is required for interiors.  Because of this, the structural direction must be considered when placing windows.   If there is too much light and heat coming into a space, the inhabitants could be uncomfortable.  For instance, the room 204 placement in the Studio Arts building.  Facing south and having windows on two full walls, this room gets unbearably warm for students during lectures.  Shades and blinds are an inexpensive alternative, but another option could be a sun shading technique called Brise Soleil, which controls how much light enters a structure.  Ranging from patterned concrete walls, wooden louvers to metal mechanical shades, as seen at the Milwaukee Art Museum[ii], Brise Soleil can be a creative, beautiful addition to a structure.

Included in chapter 1[iii], Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger describes the large windows on the long narrow row houses in the Netherlands.  Since light is prized here, because of the cloud filled skies, they celebrate their windows.  Hertzberger says, “This open window policy is attributed to the open society of the Dutch.  You can see inside and feel like you can take part in their activities.” This quote helps us understand how not only the climate but also the cultural background of people can influence how light is used in a space.  “The role of light is defining when it is revealed through the experience of a building.[iv]

In the early 1900’s, Frank Lloyd Wright showed us how natural influences can alter the way light enters a room by using abstract patterns from nature in the design of his windows.  With shape and color, shadows of images of nature projected onto the walls, which really blurred the separation of the outside and in. Wright also used different construction techniques to control the light entering into his designs.  Possibly one of the most famous homes that Wright built, Fallingwater, he used the structure to help control the light entering the interior. [v] By the use of cantilevered outdoor patio space, the windows below are shielded from direct sunlight entering into the main living spaces. This helped keep the home from getting too warm.

In conclusion, how light affects space, be it through the time of day, climate or even what the space is used for, is understandably required to know to design with a purpose.  If designers did their craft without any consideration for who will be using the spaces, there will be many spaces left unusable.

[i] Millet, Marietta S., and Catherine Jean. Barrett. “Chapter One.” Light Revealing Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996. Pg6. Print


 [iii] Millet, Marietta S., and Catherine Jean. Barrett. “Chapter One.” Light Revealing Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996. Pg10. Print

 [iv] Millet, Marietta S., and Catherine Jean. Barrett. “Chapter One.” Light Revealing Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996. Pg14. Print

Posted in Lighting, Materials

Lighting Study

Tuesday in class, we broke up into groups of three to study how light effects the interior of each level of our building.  My group consisted of Cassie Bradfield, Brian Peck and myself.  We chose the first floor of the building and needed to study the effects of natural and artificial lights.  A section of the first floor was also completed to show the stream of sunlight coming in.

We decided to divide the three required assignments and below are our findings.

Natural Lighting Plan courtesy of audra volpi
Artificial Light Plan courtesy of cassie bradfield
Natural Light Section courtesy of brian peck