Access to natural light is one of the most sought-after factors in today’s interior-architecture. However, the ever-increasing density and height of city-scapes obstructs the natural light’s way into more and more lower-storey windows. This problem is significant for new architecture in old-town Gdańk, Poland, built accordingly to the city’s historic town-house quarter urban plan. Gdańsk’s historic townhouses are narrow, long and tall buildings, adjoining at the firewalls throughout their whole length, in a twin-house like manner. Flanked on both sides by adjoining town-houses, the inside buildings in a quarter have very limited access to natural light - the areas through which the inside of the building can be lit with natural light is limited to the roof area, the top of front and the back walls, resulting in the bottom storeys being lit majorly with artificial light.
My project - “Intermission” proposes the use of heliostats - light directing mirrors - and crevices of the building’s interior architecture as a solution to this problem of limited natural light accessibility in Gdańsk’s old town-houses. Light is the main focus of the house, the focus of the design.
“Architecture which enters into a symbiosis with light does not merely create form in light, by day and at night, but allow light to become form”
In “Intermission” Interior architecture was designed so that the light coming from a crevice in the building’s roof - the main source of natural light - penetrates the whole height of the building, making it’s way through small crevices separating the building’s fire-walls and the floors of each storey to the bottom-most floor. Light seeping through small crevices as a source of light came as an inspiration from the architecture of old wooden stable buildings, lit mostly by the light which managed to squeeze through small cracks between the wall’s wooden planks. The light is first directed to the inside of the townhouse through the crevice in the roof and in order to reach the bottom floors through the interior crevices it is reflected by heliostats, placed throughout the whole length of the fire-wall. The heliostats direct the light to either be reflected further down, to a lower storey, or to the inside of a given floor.
The light can be further manipulated and controlled by sets of mechanical, modular steel - crates, similar to window blinds. Plates inside of each crate revolve around a horizontal axis. The light form the heliostats can be completely blocked by setting the plates in the modular crates vertically, so the modular crate creates a single plane, It can also be directed to light a specific point of the room, by setting a specific angle of revolution of the crate’s plates. The steel modules themselves are able to revolve at a central pivot,making it possible to open the “openwork” steel wall, created by the modular crates like windows, and allow the light reflected by heliostats into the interior without any obstruction.
The townhouse is 50m long, 5,6m wide and 14m high. in order to let more natural light inside, a central fragment of the building was “cut out” and designed as an out-door patio, for all visitors. To maximise the light - harvesting areas of the building the roofs of the front and back segments have been sloped down, as a result of the area’s solar analysis.
The building is designed to be self-sustainable, providing a private living space, a place of work of the owner, - an architectural studio, and a business contributing to the local community, providing for the upkeep of the building. The business chosen is a printing house, for which there is a demand in the area.
The project is located on Świętojańska street in Gdańsk, Poland. The technology used to bring and direct natural light ino the Townhouse are heliostats. The light is further manipulated inside of the building with specially designed mechanical modules. Direction of light through crevices separating firewalls and storeys of the interior is possible due to the construction of the interior elevations with a scaffold construction.