Designing for Circadian Rhythm Health

Tags: Sustainability

Daylight savings time ended on November 1st, disrupting our circadian rhythms. What are circadian rhythms? It’s how our bodies physically and emotionally process and follow a 24-hour cycle and is most heavily influenced by natural light.

As Architects, we design to maximize daylight so that users in our buildings maintain a normal rhythm. We do this in a number of ways:

Large windows with the views to the outdoor landscape

  • The expansive corner windows at Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School offer views of nature while the colored glass creates playful reflections throughout the building following the sun’s path.

Shading Fins

  • At Forest Park High School, we incorporated exterior shading fins that reflect indirect natural light against the ceilings while controlling glare and solar heat gain.

Daylight Harvesting

  • The Lutron vertical shades on Calvert High School’s perimeter windows and skylight are coupled with daylight-harvesting controls to reduce electric lighting when daylight can illuminate the space.

Clerestory Windows & Skylights

  • In the four-story atrium at Forest Park High School we used south facing clerestory windows and skylights which flood the once dark central core with natural light down to the lowest level of the building.

All these design features ensure that users of our buildings maintain a normal rhythm which in turn help them to be focused and happy while in school.