How to bring light into a tall, dark house? – Free Online Library Essay

Bringing sunlight indoors was architect John Walsh’s mainconcern when asked to remodel a dark four-story Victorian in SanFrancisco.

But the closeness of next-door neighbors and of the street infront ruled out adding any windows on three sides. To preserve theprivacy and quiet of the interior, Walsh determined to let in lightthrough the ceiling and the rear of the house. At the back of the upper two stories, he added a glass-roofeddining area with a large glass wall.

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The adjacent fourth-floor bedroomgained a balcony with a view through the sunroom windows. Walsh used 1/4-inch double-paned glass to enclose the sunroom.Three sliding glass doors and two fixed panes form the large centralwindow; five small windows above them push open with the aid of a longpole. When desired, mini-blinds pull down to cover the glass wall, andaluminized Mylar shades can be drawn to cover its upward-slopingceiling. On the west side of the house, Walsh created a light well byinstalling a strip of skylights over the stairs that lead from thesecond floor to the fourth.

To bring additional light deep into thehouse, he extended the stairs down to the first floor. Interior windowsin the fourth-floor bedroom open into the stairwell. Cutting away thewall between the light well and kitchen also helped to disperse lightthroughout the dwelling. On cold but cloudless days, sunlight coming in through glass in thesunroom and light well heats the upper two floors.

On warm days,opening a skylight in the light well and the five small windows near thesunroom ceiling allows air to circulate without reducing security. Anexhaust fan in the wall near the bedroom balcony draws hot air outside.

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