Light in Architecture, part 2

Post written by Paul de Vries and Simon Droog. Follow them on Twitter.

Fig. 1 Saw-tooth roof – City hall in Gothenburg, Sweden. Source: Gareth Gardner

Last week I (Simon) wrote part 1 of our Light in Architecture series. So if you’ve missed it, you can read it here: Without light, no architecture? In part 2 we’d like to show you an interesting project – the City Hall of Gothenburg in Sweden by architect Asplund. We’re going to show you how he used daylight in his design. Enjoy!

Daylight and design
Asplund designed this city hall with a covered and an open court. These courts are visually connected through a glass wall. Daylight enters the covered court from the side through this glass wall. The covered court is too deep for the daylight to enter the whole space, thus Asplund decided to add a skylight. The skylight is not a normal skylight, but one in the shape of a single section of a saw-tooth roof (see fig. 2). This makes sure that the daylight still comes from only one direction, which results in a quality of light that is very satisfactory.

Fig. 2 Saw-tooth light diagram

The round edges of the columns (see fig. 3) in front of the glass wall have a soft contour to avoid harsh shadows and give them more plasticity. This adds to the quality of the light and the atmosphere of the space.

Fig. 2 Glass wall – City hall in Gothenburg, Sweden. Source: rutinha on flickr

Light from one direction

“A more or less concentrated light that is, light from one or more sources falling in the same direction is the best in which to see form and texture.”
– RASMUSSEN, S. E. (1962) Experiencing architecture (1)

In part 3, we’ll talk more about light in Dutch Canal Houses. In the mean time let me know about your ideas on light in architecture. If you have anything to add… please leave a comment below of drop me a line through the contact page.


  1. RASMUSSEN, S.E. (1962) Experiencing Architecture, 2nd Edition (p. 208) – affiliate link

2 thoughts on “Light – City Hall Gothenburg, Sweden

  1. Dear Simon Droog,
    very interesting.
    You can follow me on facebook;
    experience of light in architecture.
    greetings gerard maas

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