The value of a light touch

NT News - Real Estate - - Realestate - KIRSTEN CRAZE

QOur liv­ing spa­ces are quite dark but we’re hemmed in by neigh­bours on both sides. Is there any way we can get more light in with­out a ma­jor ex­ten­sion?

AThe en­light­en­ing an­swer to a som­bre sit­u­a­tion might just come from above, ac­cord­ing to ar­chi­tect Shaun Carter of Carter Wil­liamson Ar­chi­tects.

Shaun says sky­lights can be an ideal fix for a dark or awk­wardly de­signed space, but they have to be con­sid­ered care­fully.

“We do sky­lights all the time, but we like to think we do ‘skil­ful’ sky­lights,” he says.

“Too of­ten sky­lights are just thrown at the problem.”

Aus­tralians to­day have a love af­fair with bright and breezy homes, how­ever that hasn’t al­ways been the case. Shaun says older in­ner-city res­i­dences, which of­ten butt up against one an­other on small blocks, are of­ten in need of savvy light solutions which al­low the sun’s rays in, but keep the neigh­bours’ gaze out.

In a his­toric cot­tage in Syd­ney’s in­ner west, Shaun in­cor­po­rated sky­lights into a bath­room af­ter be­ing in­spired by is­land life.

“We put a glass roof over the top, be­cause it sits right un­der a big tree,” he says. “I think it feels like a Fi­jian bure where you can shower out­side, open to the el­e­ments. That’s what we wanted to do, but do it in ur­ban Bal­main.

“The re­sult is in­cred­i­bly tan­talis­ing to think that you could be stark naked, clean­ing your­self, look­ing up at a gum tree but be so close to the CBD.”

Shine a light on his­tory

Bring­ing an older home into the 21st cen­tury of­ten means seek­ing out ways to draw in nat­u­ral light. How­ever, while sky­lights might be seen as an in­stant fix, Shaun says they can some­times in­ter­fere with the flow and form of pe­riod ar­chi­tec­ture. “If you are in a con­ser­va­tion area, you’d want to do a sky­light on the rear climb of a roof line, which we’d prob­a­bly sup­port,” he says. “But then the next ques­tion is; are you in­ter­rupt­ing a re­ally beau­ti­ful ceil­ing?

Shaun sug­gests that, whether you live in a her­itage area or not, you should first check if a sky­light would be per­mit­ted on your prop­erty.

Good day sun­shine

Shaun says if you have been given the go-ahead, the sky is al­most the limit with de­sign op­tions and place­ment.

“Af­ter you get around whether it’s per­mis­si­ble or not, your only lim­its are struc­tural,” he says. “Glass is the type of ma­te­rial that only with­holds so much, so you’ve got to be care­ful with the struc­ture.

“You need to de­sign the sky­light so that you can stand on it,” Shaun says. While you won’t be walk­ing on the roof, the rule is in place to en­sure safety dur­ing on­go­ing main­te­nance.

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