Daylight is Essential to Architecture 2

Architecture has been devised, from its beginnings, as a response to daylight’s particular qualities: its colors, its variability due to weather, its cycle of daily and seasonal appearances and disappearances, and its thermal characteristics.  An architecture meant to respond to electric light would have been entirely different. With its relatively limited spread, typically measured in feet rather than in hundreds or even thousands of miles, electric light is incapable of making a “sky” that fills our lives with illumination. It is indifference to daily or seasonal rhythms, the means by which we have organized time. The cycle of the seasons, their changing colors, the gradual lengthening and shortening of the length of a day, all of which differ by location; and the cultural influence of those patterns, existed well before electricity provided illumination. Electric light makes its own time with the flip of a switch and its electrical or chemical colored glow makes a substantially different light. Electric light is susceptible to our control in a way that sunlight is not. It is incredibly useful, responsive to our commands, and great fun, but it is not connected to essential forces in nature. Electric light does not vary by place or time.  Limited to electric light, we would live in a world of night, in specific and isolated pools of illumination. Instead, immersed in daylight, we have accustomed ourselves to reorganizing daylight with the elements of architecture: surfaces and structures that defy gravity and gather daylight.

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