Friday, July 29, 2011

light and color

Most days in Miami end with a spectacular sunset. The combination of landscape, atmosphere, climate and sunlight makes for stunning evening skies. Crepuscule redeems even the strip mall streetscape of South Florida.

One point that came up in response to one of my students' questions during our last site visit was how the house responds to the changing light conditions. The interior finishes (white walls, gray steel structure and light gray floors) are intended to reflect the ambient light throughout the day. The large expanses of glass, especially around the living and dining room, the kitchen and the family room, are designed to fill the house with indirect light. The inside walls of the mechanical lofts should catch direct sunlight during sunrise and sunset after the spring equinox and before the autumnal equinox.

We first appreciated the ability of architecture to respond to atmosphere and light in Agra, back in 1991, when we ended up at the Taj Mahal at sunrise:

These  two photos, taken less than an hour apart, show how the white marble cladding reflects the changing colors of both the direct sunlight and the indirect light. The building radiates light.

One effect we won't be able to emulate is the visual depth of the marble surface. The marble's translucence allows the sunlight to penetrate into the stone. The color that reflects back is complex, and the building's profile reverberates ever so slightly.

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