So in case you’re reading back through the past blogs, we’re still in Coronavirus lockdown. Week 109,506,493. Its Maprily? Might be June? But either way, in the south east of England it’s warm and sunny with bright blue skies and fairly few clouds. It’s actually the sort of summer most of us wish for. Except we’d rather be at the park with friends, at the beach with family rather than staying at home looking out through the
Windows have been a really important link to the outside world while we’ve all been inside. They are our link to the world. Whether you’re out on your socially distanced walk looking at the rainbows. Seeing and waving to your neighbours as they go past. Looking out for the delivery drivers to drop off that thing you needed from Amazon (or your latest food shop). Running a business whilst keeping your staff and customers as safe as you can. It’s been through your windows. It gives you a sense of belonging, being part of your street.
This is The Deaf Cat in Rochester. Fabulous coffee if you fancy a visit. It’s opposite the war memorial by the Cathedral.
The visibility (neighbours, delivery drivers etc.) is known as passive surveillance. It keeps you linked to your surroundings, but also keeps your surroundings safe. Anti-social behaviour usually occurs when there aren’t any people watching, no one to take ownership of a space. If a corridor is being watched, it’s far less likely people who you’d rather not be there will congregate. Think corridors to flats with no external windows and no windows from the flats. Car parks hidden from view. Bike stores. Bin stores.
With windows comes sunlight. Can you imagine how much worse lockdown would have been if it had been grey and miserable the whole time? Or winter with the reduced daylight hours? People like sunlight (regardless of what the vampire who’s currently sat working from home upstairs in the bedroom/office would have to say!) Sunlight is good for you, too little is damaging. Who’s heard of SADS? https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/. Sunlight sets the rhythm of the day. It shows us the seasons.
So windows and light are important. And designing good daylight, sunlight and visibility into a space can make or break a project. Windows are especially important in high use spaces, such as kitchens and living rooms. You shouldn’t have to switch the light on on a sunny day do make lunch. We use to live in a flat in Maidstone with a kitchen, living, diner where the kitchen was in the middle of the flat. The kitchen light was on permanently. We also had patio doors onto the balcony as the only window in the living dining space. It really limited how we could open the window and cool the space. There was no just open it slightly option – its all or nothing. The size and control of windows are important things to consider. It’s easy to manage too much light, it’s easy to manage too much ventilation, but it’s impossible to manage too little.
So some pointers for your projects:
– Include decent sized windows in your project. As a rule of thumb a MINIMUM of 20% of your floor area
– High use rooms (kitchens and living spaces) in particular need good daylighting
– Have them height appropriate – so you can see out of them when sitting down
– Think about how you open them and how far they open – you can get restrictors that limit the opening. I always recommend restrictors on upstairs windows. You can take them off to open the window fully, but I like the limited opening for daily family use.