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Light in layout planning

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This is a welcome reprinting of Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight*, in some ways more timely now than when it was originally published by bre in 1991. It begins with achieving minimum light levels from diffuse skylight and the use and control of direct sunlight. Since the main focus is low-rise housing, the lack of coverage of developments in shading technology over the last decade is more acceptable than it would be for commercial buildings.

The book goes on to look at housing-estate layout in terms of dwelling orientation and spacing to achieve good solar exposure for all dwellings. And there are reminders of how all this relates to other layout issues such as view, privacy, security and microclimate.

What made this book different at the time were the appendices - the set of indicators and not-so-straightforward chart-based calculation methods that take up two-thirds of the book. They provide a design method for establishing the quantity of sunlight and skylight available at different times of the day or year and the amount reaching the working plane. They are developed in plan and section, including dealing with shading by nearby buildings. Examples are given of calculations, though more could have been said about interpreting the results. (Helpfully, interpretation is available in The Design of Lighting, reviewed opposite - which in turn uses Littlefair's methods for some of its calculations.)

Some corrections were made for the 1995 reprinting. The new edition is a facsimile of that. A few pages are blank due to the mechanics of the facsimile process; there is nothing missing. What does indicate the publication's age is the handcraft design method. Nowadays we would expect software to help us do this.

* Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight: A Guide to Good Practice. P J Littlefair. bre Report br 209. From crc, 0171 505 6622. 85pp. £47.50

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