“Also marvelous in a room is the light that comes through the windows of a room and that belongs to the room. The sun does not realize how beautiful it is until after a room is made. A man’s creation, the making of a room, is nothing short of a miracle. Just think, that a man can claim a slice of the sun.”     – Louis Kahn

As soon as we hear the words ‘optical technology’ images of man- made LEDs, lasers and optical fibers hover around in our minds. But artificial is not always best; when developing and getting totally dependable on the new technology it should be remembered that evolution has had millions of years to perfect our human bodies that interact and relate with natural daylight.

Since the man moved out of his cave into his self-erected structures, he designed buildings that provided shelter but those structures were also in harmony with nature. The main reason is that he just didn’t have any other options but to use the naturally available resources to provide him comfortable living conditions. Artificial lights, electric heaters and torch weren’t invented for another several 10 000 years. Man’s main source of light and heat was the sun.

Ever since then man has known how to design buildings that utilise sunlight and daylight. He only ‘forgot’ this craft with the availability of cheap electricity. Realising his mistake, he is now trying to re-discover what he lost only recently.

Daylighting refers to the use of natural light, may it be the brilliant sunlight or muted overcast skylight, to support our visual demands. The daylighting purists argue that for a space to be considered daylit, it must use natural light as the primary source of daytime illumination, create a visually and thermally comfortable place and most importantly be able to connect to the outside world. It also helps achieve persistent maximization of electric lighting energy savings while minimizing peak energy demand.

Is this the start of a new era of designing buildings which people call ‘sustainable or green’ or are we going Back to Basics ?