Natural Lighting

Daylight Velux Symposium


Organized by the Danish company Velux and under the title of ‘New Eyes on Existing Buildings’, the fifth biennial Congress on Natural Lighting was held on the 15th and 16th of May at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. If previous editions – held in Budapest in 2005, Bilbao in 2007, Rotterdam in 2009 and Lausanne in 2011 – looked at issues like the importance of natural light in architectural design and its effects on comfort and health, this year’s congress turned to the part that natural light plays in interventions on already existing buildings and neighborhoods, particularly as a determining factor in sustainable and environment-oriented solutions.

The event brought together a total of eighteen speakers, some of them world-renowned specialists, who addressed a diversity of themes that occasionally touched on other considerations, concomitant topics belonging to disciplines as varied as aesthetics, biology and medicine. A case in point was Robert Hobday, an expert in solar therapy, who discussed how vital the sun is for hygiene, tracing a history of heliotherapy from its scientific beginnings in the mid-19th century. Another was Dr. Deborah Burnett, who spoke of the importance of natural light in determining Circadian cycles.

Other participants drew attention to the biological aspects of lighting, such as Kasper Guldager Jorgensen, director of the local practice GXN, who explained the latest innovations in the field of ‘intelligent’ materials, or Michael Pawlyn, who tackled the matter from the angle of biomimicry while presenting his recently published book Biomimicry in Architecture (see Arquitectura Viva 143). Still others spoke on natural lighting as a parameter of urban design (Koen Steemers), as an element of architectural design (Florence Lam), or as a determining factor in the shaping of inhabited atmospheres from the angle of aesthetics and phenomenology (Claude Demers).

Held parallel to the congress was an academic forum where a group of doctoral students presented their respective research papers on the theme of lighting as an element connected to energy-saving, and as a parameter essential to architectural design. The forum complemented the institution’s annual International Velux Awards for students of architecture. (The congress presentaions can be downloaded at

Included Tags: