The importance of orientation in a building must be considered at the
outset, when the architect is planning the location of the building on the
site, the aim being to ensure the maximum availability of useful natural
light and sunlight to the interior.
There may of course be severe restrictions where the building is set into
a rigid street pattern, or where there are severe external obstructions; but
even in these circumstances the best use of the daylighting available
should be considered. The architect will have the greatest flexibility to get
the building orientation right on a greenfield site, where he can plan the
site layout to take advantage of the sun path and the availability of the
Taking an example from residential buildings in the northern hemi-
sphere, and using the simple fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in
the west, it would be normal to ensure that those rooms which might
benefit most from early morning light, such as a kitchen, morning room
or even bedrooms, are placed on the east side, whilst those more likely to
be used in the afternoon or evening such as living rooms face south or
There will of course be debate about the desirability of selecting a
specific orientation for a particular use of room and it will be up to the
architect to discuss this with his client, and there may also be conflict with
the orientation of a room when associated with the ability to enjoy a
particular view.
As with all architecture a compromise will need to be established which
best fits the needs of the interior function. What is essential is that the
orientation of a building and the interior layout takes most advantage of
the daylight available and is a factor taken into consideration at the outset
of the building design.
Each architectural programme whether an office, school or church, will
have its own specific needs of orientation, and this is of special
significance where the interior function is one requiring the inhabitants
to sit in fixed positions, often the case in offices or classrooms.
Another aspect of orientation and one where the mere presence of
daylighting is reassuring, is the subconscious desire of people when
inside a building to keep in touch with the outside world, whether to
know the time of day or the nature of the weather. An example of this
might be taken from the modern shopping centre. The Victorians had got
it right when they introduced overhead daylighting from domes or barrel
vaults to their shopping arcades. But in the 1960s many of our early
shopping centres cut out daylight altogether, leading to people finding it
difficult to negotiate their way around or to find the exits.

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