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5.35.Japan-8-detail-a natural light Highlights Relevant to Sustainable Design:

We can rethink natural light over artificial light.

Professor Koyama teaches at the University of Tokyo, and he is a friend of Kinya. When we met, one of the points he raised was about windows as holes in the wall. He simply asked, “Why does the window open and not the wall?” He then proceeded to show us his design for a house that has windows with fixed glass and walls that have hinged portions that open up and out. This level of thinking is appealing in dealing with a range of historical observations. Rather than just repeating or copying what is old, why not take the idea and put it through a metamorphosis? Too often here in America, we become enamored with how something looks rather than how it works. We love an Italian villa, so we build a slightly smaller scale one in Palm Beach. We don’t try to figure out what it is that makes the villa look and work the way it does.

The natural light, the air circulation, the texture, sound, and even smell are all so special. These factors too often play a secondary role to the visual style. Japan 9: Detail (a) shows an atrium roof design that effectively and elegantly allows light to enter four different interior walls, provoking the question of why the Japanese are now enamored with American style suburban box houses. This system also shows an overlapping system of shoji screens, which takes on a cubist transparency. Often in Skia style, strict geometry is juxtaposed with something that is natural. In the midst of an exacting grid of wooden slats, one column is taken directly from the tree, with its full curve, bark, and imperfections included. This is one more example of design juxtaposition and contradiction. Sustainability is about embracing our connection to the natural world, and the organic form is a subtle but powerful reminder.

5.36.Japan-8-detail-b drawing details from this sketchbook in addition to focus on natural light


ginkgo leaf

5.37.Japan-8-detail-c drawing details from this sketchbook in addition to focus on natural light

Japanese tatami mats


The figure outline in this image is for scale to illustrate the size of the fold-out field drawing. The descriptions of certain key elements and insights are included with the accompanying drawings in this section.

Author and illustrator: Charlie Szoradi is an architect, inventor, and the CEO of Independence LED Lighting. He writes about many other topics related to natural light and window design through his extensive travels around the world.

If you have found this posting online, it is an excerpt from Mr. Szoradi’s book Learn from Looking that served as the inspiring seed content for this drawing share resource. For additional drawings and insights on natural light, we hope that you enjoy exploring You can search via general terms such as sustainability as well as narrower terms, in the category of building illumination and natural light.

natural light, ginkgo leaf, tatami mats