Early stage daylight analysis with Spacemaker

Industry & Insight
August 17, 2020

By Paul Rogers, Architect and daylight certification specialist at BAU Architects in Stockholm, Sweden and Joran van Schaik, Building Engineer and Industry Expert at Spacemaker

Over the last year, we at Spacemaker have researched, developed, and implemented daylight analysis for the early stages of urban planning. Over the next months, we will release a series of blog posts about daylight, in which we describe in more detail how the analysis works within the Spacemaker platform and the reasoning behind the most useful functions. We’ll start with our motivation behind the inclusion of daylight analyses, and we hope it will create a bit of excitement about the content to come!

Spacemaker’s daylight analysis of Sørenga, Oslo — Overview of the site

It is commonly understood that, in the modern world, most of us spend around 90% of our time indoors. Nowadays, with self-isolation caused by the COVID-19, we can assume that this number is even higher. This context makes it more obvious than ever that the indoor environment must have human health as a primary focus.

There is no shortage of validated scientific studies showing that daylight levels inside of buildings are a contributing factor to the health of their occupants, affecting people both psychologically and physiologically. Accordingly, the effect of daylight on human health is a rapidly growing area of research. It wasn’t so long ago (2017) that the Nobel prize was awarded to three Americans (Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael Young) working in the field of circadian biology. There are numerous references on the subject and we have noted a few at the end of this article.

Studies have also shown that our productivity is positively influenced by exposure to natural light, both in the office and school environments. For example, exposure to daylight has been associated with improved mood, enhanced morale, less fatigue, and reduced eye strain (Robbins, 1986). Companies have recorded an increase in productivity of their employees of about 15% after moving to a new building with better daylight conditions, resulting in considerable financial gains (Edwards and Torcellini, 2002). One study showed that students in classrooms with the most window area or daylighting produced 7% to 18% higher scores on the standardised tests than those with the least window area or daylight (Heschong, 2002). Again, a list of references is provided below.

Spacemaker’s daylight analysis of Sørenga, Oslo — The dark blue areas indicate potential daylight issues

Our access to daylight is strongly affected by the relationship between building height and the distance between them i.e. the density of building mass. It is well documented that over the next thirty years, the cities of the world will grow by more than 2 billion people. This growth necessitates building higher, denser, and faster than before — while also providing high living quality and sustainable urban environments. Achieving these goals is a global challenge, recognized by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal for Sustainable Cities and Communities. Considering the important role daylight plays in human health, it is not surprising that many European countries — Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, among others — have regulatory requirements prescribing minimum levels of daylight for buildings.

Driven by these obvious health benefits and code requirements, but also growing consumer awareness and demand, access to daylight has become an increasingly influential factor when planning new neighbourhoods or building out existing ones.

Spacemaker’s daylight analysis of Sørenga, Oslo — In Spacemaker it is possible to explore the buildings from all angles.

Spacemaker’s focus is on the early stages of design — which are the very stages where daylight access is largely decided. The software supports architects and urban planners in optimizing building massing for access to daylight. By carrying out these analyses in the massing stage, Spacemaker users are able to work with the most important features of their site with the aim of avoiding potential problems with daylight down the road.

Architects and urban planners can use Spacemaker to identify the areas that potentially have difficulty in obtaining sufficient daylight and adjust the design accordingly. This way of working allows for quick iterations and optimized design proposals.

In our next blog post, we will take you on a much more in-depth tour of the functionality of our daylight analysis. Stay tuned!


This series of daylight blog posts is written in collaboration with Paul Rogers. Paul Rogers and his team at BAU Architects helped Spacemaker in developing the daylight analysis through a research and development partnership.

Paul is an architect and daylight certification specialist at BAU Architects in Stockholm, Sweden. He is team leader to a group of five daylight certification specialists and the principal author of two key reports regarding the modernization of Sweden’s daylight regulations. Paul is also involved in the development of daylight criteria for the Nordic Svanen, Miljöbyggnad and Breeam-SE certification systems. He has also served on Swedish Standard Institute’s (SIS) national review board for the European daylight standard EN 17037:2018 and helped to formulate the LEED pilot credit for Daylight for Nordic Projects. He is the designated expert daylight for Sweden’s Green Building Council’s and Svanen Nordic label and currently serves on the WELL (IWBI) certification Light Concept Advisory Board. He is a frequent author and lecturer on the subject of daylight and founder of ‘Svensk dagsljusberäkning’ (Swedish daylight calculation) with circa 500 members on LinkedIn.

Joran is a Building Engineer with experience in modular construction and sustainable buildings. Joran works as Industry Expert within Spacemaker’s product organization sharing his knowledge about the building industry and assisting with the development of the Spacemaker software. Joran holds a MSc in Civil Engineering from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

  • Veitch och Galasiu. (2012). The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Windows, Daylight, and View at Home: Review and Research Agenda. NRCIRC projekt 44-B3256 för Velux A/S.
  • Figueiro (2013). ‘An Overview of the Effects of Light on Human Circadian Rhythms: Implications for New Light Sources and Lighting Systems Design.’ Journal of Light & Visual Environment, Vol. 37 (2013) №2–3.
  • Boyce, Hunter och Howlett (2003). The Benefits of Daylight through Windows, literature review. Capturing the Daylight Dividend Program, U.S. Department of Energy mm.
  • Boubekri M., Cheung I.N., Reid K.J., Wang C.H. och Zee P.C. (2014). ‘Impact of windows and daylight exposure on overall health and sleep quality of office workers: a case-control pilot study.’ Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 2014;10(6):603–611