David Clarke of IDSystems explains the transformative power of bringing abundant natural light into the home, and how innovative glazing solutions are reshaping our modern living spaces
Over the past decade, there has been a substantial shift in the way modern homes are designed and built, and at the heart of those changes has been the desire to create bright, contemporary spaces which are full of natural light.
Whether it is an extension, a renovation or a complete self-build home, large open-plan spaces project have become the starting point for many plans and ambitions. These open plan spaces are designed with large amounts of glazing that flood natural light into the interior like never before, but why has this become such a staple of residential architecture?
While every home is different, two driving factors have underpinned the style choices of homeowners – technical development of products and the increased access to inspiration for planned projects.
From home renovation programmes on TV through to the lifestyle of those who influence modern styles and trends on social media platforms, the visibility of what can be achieved is greater than ever before and those influences are drawn from far wider than ever before.
Almost every project that we get to work on now features large open plan rooms, complete with the obligatory kitchen island, designed to bring people together. Gone are the box shaped individual rooms of traditional house building and in their place are contemporary modern spaces that the whole family can enjoy.
The growth of large open-plan spaces hasn’t simply been limited to the interior of a home either, the addition of large amounts of glazing to wrap these modern homes has broken down the boundaries between inside and out, extending the living space out onto the patio and into the garden.
The technical product development that has driven this has been the production of larger and larger double glazed sealed units and the development of slender and thermally-broken aluminium profiles, making sliding doors with minimal frames that allow for almost uninterrupted views as a viable solution for almost any budget.
Where once the size of windows was governed by the size of the available glass unit, now almost entire walls of glass can be created that draw more natural light further into homes than
WHY IS NATURAL LIGHT SO APPEALING FOR MORE AND MORE SELF-BUILDERS?
We are often drawn to create light-filled spaces without necessarily understanding why, and it comes down to evolution. Historically, our ancestors relied almost entirely on natural daylight to live their daily lives. It is only in the last century that artificial light has come to dominate our homes and workplaces.
The challenge is that natural light brings measurable health benefits to us in a way that artificial light cannot. Exposure to sunlight prompts our bodies to produce serotonin, a hormone that is associated with well-being.
Sunlight also prompts our skin to produce vitamin D, which research shows can improve emotional regulation as well as boost our physical health by helping our bodies to absorb calcium and even reduce fatigue.
With our in-built desire for natural light – and influences from across the globe, particularly from areas where traditionally they enjoy a brighter and sunnier climate than the UK, it is understandable to see why the design of living spaces has changed, even if the underlying reasons aren’t always considered.
From a glazing perspective delivering products and solutions to meet ever increasing demand for glass has been a constant area of development. Demand from homeowners has driven product development that in turn has helped create the stylish contemporary homes that have become the inspiration for so many planning projects.
Historically the glazing industry has relied on timber or more recently PVCu to frame windows and doors, so the development of aluminium frames that benefit from the innate strength of the material, has allowed for door and window systems that are more akin to commercial glazing solutions than traditional residential design.
The products now available are designed not just to look good, but to meet the stringent thermal performance standards required by Building Regulations. Where historically windows have been one of the least efficient elements of a home, now glass technology provides ultra-efficient options, even for those tackling Passivhaus standard homes.
These developments and standards mean that for those choosing doors and windows to enclose their homes, the choice has come more down to functionality and usability than size
and scale. Bi-fold doors, with their ability to completely open up to connect inside and out, were the first to benefit from changes to customer demand, whereas more recently, slim-framed sliding doors have become the go-to option; their ultra-narrow frames maximising the size of glass to provide a connection between home and garden all year around, while drawing more natural light into indoor spaces.
The popularity of bright, contemporary homes, enhanced by their light-filled open-plan spaces, seems set to grow and grow for self-builders even as Building Regulations become stricter. For us at IDSystems it means constantly looking at research and product development to continue to be able to meet customer demand.