Light in Architecture, part 1

Post written by Simon Droog. Follow him on Twitter.

An old teacher of mine used to talk about light with me and he always kept saying something like without light there is no architecture. At the time it sounded like one of those sayings teachers ramble about all the time, but lately I’ve been thinking about some of the things he said. Now after a few years of thinking, the words of my teacher slowly sink in. I believe I have to agree with him that light is definitely one of the more important aspects of architecture. Although I must admit that architecture is too much about our visual sense these days and that the other senses are equally important to address, but that is a discussion for another post. So for now I thought I’d write a post on light in architecture. Easier said than done…

There is so much to discuss about light that I was having a hard time getting started. In the end I’ve decided to make a series out of it: Light in architecture, and this is part 1. Today I’ll start with sharing some of my favourite quotes on light in architecture from movies I’ve seen and books I’ve read. Let’s get inspired!

“A truly great structure, one that is meant to stand the tests of time never disregards its environment. A serious architect takes that into account. He knows that if he wants presence, he must consult with nature. He must be captivated by the light. Always the light. Always.”

– Quote from the movie The Lake House (2006)

Experiencing space
“Light is of decisive importance in experiencing architecture. The same room can be made to give very different spacial impressions by the simple expedient of changing the size and location of its openings.”

– RASMUSSEN, S. E. (1962) Experiencing architecture (1)

Absence of wall
“In our time, light has turned into a mere quantitative matter and the window has lost its significance as a mediator between two worlds, between enclosed and open, interiority and exteriority, private and public, shadow and light. Having lost its ontological meaning, the window has turned into a mere absence of the wall.”

– PALLASMAA, J. (2005) The Eyes of the Skin; Architecture and the Senses (2)

“Free influx of natural light give a shadowless interior; forms are not quite plastic and textural effects are generally poor.”

– RASMUSSEN, S. E. (1962) Experiencing architecture (3)

What’s next?

In part 2, I’ll talk more about the direction of light. In the mean time let me know about your ideas on light in architecture. If you have anything to add… maybe a quote of your own or some insights you’d like to share – please leave a comment below of drop me a line through the contact page.


  1. IMDb: The Lake House (2006)
  2. RASMUSSEN, S.E. (1962) Experiencing Architecture, 2nd Edition (p. 187) – affiliate link
  3. PALLASMAA, J. (2005) The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses (p. 47) – affiliate link
  4. RASMUSSEN, S.E. (1962) Experiencing Architecture, 2nd Edition (p. 195) – affiliate link

4 thoughts on “Without light, no architecture?

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