ARCH 4605/6605
Zenithal Light

a round skylight sheds light on a table, an easel with a painting on it, and  empty frames leaning against the wall

House in Itoshima (1976), designed by SHINOHARA, Kazuo. Photo by TOTO Publishers.

  • Instructor: Rodolfo R. Dias
  • Time: R 10:10 a.m.–12:05 p.m.
  • Location: 304 Rand Hall
  • Credits: 3
  • Territory of Investigation: Architecture and Representation

"Something that has not often been considered at all, or has at least been seriously neglected, is the quality of light. What do we mean by the quality of light? Light is a phenomenon that human beings need to use constantly." — From a lecture given by Alvar Aalto at the annual meeting of the Swedish Society of Industrial Design, May 9, 1935.

This special topics in construction seminar focuses on zenithal light. Through the use of natural light 'from above,' one can introduce unexpected and surprising concepts of architectural spatiality. These sources of light, freed from the building facade constrains, allow for particular formal freedom. A zenithal light strategy allows for a more controlled light. In other cases, zenithal light is the only option to bring light to central spaces away from the edge of the building. Zenithal light may connect spaces on different levels by lighting vertical voids in the planimetry of a building.

The course aims to identify zenithal light qualities, and how it impacts the overall spatial experience and defines atmospheres.

Students will be presented to a vast overview of precedents of zenithal light sources throughout architecture history. The student is expected to develop skills in capturing lighting design concepts through model making and representing spatial lighting concepts through drawings following industry standards.

Instructor permission required:

One week assignment - best 15 projects will be selected.

View a PDF of this class description.


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