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 Natural Light in Design  posted by  duggu   on 11/30/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Andersen, Marilyne, 4.493 Natural Light in Design, January IAP 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare),  (Accessed 08 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Computer rendering of light levels on a building.

Light levels on MIT's Compton Laboratories. (Image courtesy of Ruchi Jain, Gordana Jakimovska, and Ed Rice.)

Course Description

Today, computer-based simulations are becoming increasingly popular, especially when daylighting and energy conservation are amongst the key goals for a project. This two-week workshop will expose participants to the current daylighting simulation models and beyond, by introducing realistic and dynamic assessment methods through hands-on exercises and application to a design project. Open to students and practitioners.

This course is offered during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), which is a special 4-week term at MIT that runs from the first week of January until the end of the month.




Daylighting, or more generally lighting, is one of the fundamental components of architecture. Not only is it the key element in revealing built volumes and providing a character to a space, it must also adequately respond to our needs for visual comfort and for a healthy environment, and has to be carefully planned to be ecologically viable. Today, computer-based simulations are becoming increasingly popular, especially when daylighting and energy conservation are amongst the key goals for a project. This workshop will introduce participants to using Radiance, Ecotect, and Daysim as a toolset to carry out a state-of-the-art daylighting analysis of buildings. The analysis will combine traditional performance metrics - such as daylight factor and avoidance of direct sunlight - with emerging metrics based on dynamic annual daylight simulations. Two days of formal instruction and hands-on exercises will be followed by a day during which participants will be able to apply the concepts learnt to a design project of their choosing.


This workshop will be open to students and practitioners. It will be organized in two parts:

Tuesday and Wednesday, January 24-25: Lectures and hands-on exercises

Tuesday, January 31: Presentations, discussion and feedback on design projects

During the week in-between, each team will apply the learned concepts to a design project of their choosing so as to generate an "added value" from the daylighting/energy consumption standpoint; they will benefit from feedback during that time and present their results on this third day of the workshop.


The class size will be strictly limited; early applications will receive first consideration. Although bringing a laptop to class is not a requirement for this course, it is highly recommended. Please arrive one hour before class begins in order to install the necessary software.




Tuesday, January 24

Times Topics
9.30 Welcome, class introduction, design project (teams formed on following morning)
10.00 General introduction to daylighting (benefits, design issues, thermal aspects, built examples)
10.30 Introduction to building simulation (why simulations for architects, tools used in this course)

Photometry (definition, measurement, typical values, DF definition)

Static daylighting metrics (context of LEED, selected results from NRC survey, DF and solar shading)

Daylight factor calculations: Sky models CIE and Perez, split-flux method, LEED spreadsheet method

Daylight factor simulation: Design sky, split flux method in Ecotect

  • Hands-on exercise: DF calculation in Ecotect (split flux)
  • Hands-on exercise: solar shading module in Ecotect

Introduction to Radiance

  • Hands-on exercise: Radiance visualizations
  • Hands-on exercise: DF calculation in Ecotect (Radiance)

Climate data (Data definition and measurement, energy and weather data directory)

  • Hands-on exercise: Weather tool in Ecotect

Overview on visual comfort (glare, contrast, recommendations)

Dynamic metrics and related tools


Hands-on exercise: Daysim exercise from tutorial interrupted by discussions on:

  • Short time steps dynamics
  • Daylight coefficients
  • User behavior model
  • Daylight autonomy results
17.00 Hands-on exercise: Students to repeat DF, solar shading and daylight aautonomy analyses on their own
17:30 End of first day

Wednesday, January 25

Times Topics
9.30 Miscellany: Announcements, organization of design project teams

Hands-on exercises: Review yesterday's content

Daylit buildings and technologies (including advanced materials)

Introduction to advanced radiance materials, Ecotect's RADTOOL

11.15 Hands-on exercises: Import geometries and materials from other programs (SketchUp, AutoCAD®)
12.15 Specialty topics (to be suggested by participants before the workshop)
14.00 Hands-on exercises: Participants start working on their own models (participants will have the opportunity to discuss their project ideas with the instructors)
16.00 Continue previous activities
17:30 End of second day

Tuesday, January 31

Times Topics
9:00 Welcome
9:15 Team 1: Buro Happold project on daylit parking
9:45 Team 2: Façade renovation vs. transformation project on building 26
10:15 Team 3: Payette project on Aga Khan University
11:00 Team 4: Sasaki project on Sacred Heart University
11:30 Team 5: Fanning/Howey project on schools
12:00 Team 6: Design project on greenhouse/patio space
1:00 IES virtual environment demonstration
1:45 Team 7: Design project on hospital patient room
2:15 Team 8: Green roundtable project on Nexus Center
2:45 Team 9: Andelman/Lelek project on simulation tools comparison
3:30 General discussion about projects, workshop and software capabilities
5:30 End of workshop   Tell A Friend