Fine Lines 2015

Designing for Maximum Natural Light and Ventilation

Since setting up her company in Brisbane in 2013, Carolyn was interviewed in 2014 by ‘The Fifth Estate’, the online sustainable design publication.

One of the key messages from that article which we continue to focus on in our design process is designing for maximum natural light and ventilation. One of the main reasons people prefer detached housing to apartments is access to natural light and ventilation.

As lifestyle requirements change and apartment living becomes a more affordable or convenient option, we must be able to provide apartment living that equals detached housing in quality and access to natural light and ventilation.

How many apartment buildings have you seen or experienced where this does not exist? Probably many. How can apartment design be improved to provide this?

Design Tips

  • Reduce the number of apartments / floor and provide access to corners
  • Articulated facades provide more opportunities for windows and can direct breezes if cleverly located
  • Check the wind rose for your site location and orient the building to capture the local and prevalent breezes
  • Provide north aspect to as many apartments as possible
  • Elevate off the ground to better capture breezes

The traditional Queenslander house design with open construction below is an effective way of cooling in summer with ventilation flowing under the living spaces and can be incorporated into smaller scale apartment design.

For long linear sites, install staircases between each 2 apartments/ floor for walk up units to avoid long unventilated corridors and provide cross ventilation to all apartments.

Provide skylights and roof vents to public stairs where fire codes permit to encourage the venture effect for fresh air changes with hot air rising and self-exhausting out of the roof vents.