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The International VELUX Award is a biennial competition for students of architecture. We challenge students from all over the world to work with daylight as an ever relevant source of light, life and joy. More than 600 student teams have submitted their daylight project to the International VELUX Award, and the jury has elected nine regional winners. See all winning projects here.

Choosing the Right Award Category for Your Project

While working on making your daylight project the best it can be, it is important to decide whether your project has an investigating, scientific approach to daylight or if you are working with a more concrete, applicable daylight project. Architect and program manager for the International VELUX Award, Per Arnold Andersen explains more about and gives advice on working with the award categories.

Architect and program manager for the International VELUX Award, Per Arnold Andersen gives advice about how to work with the different daylight categories.

The two main award categories in the International VELUX Award are ‘Daylight in Buildings’ and ‘Daylight Investigations’. Together, the two categories challenge you to look at any aspect of daylight and the settings in which we find it. According to Andersen, there are some essential differences between the two.

“In the ‘Daylight in Buildings’ category encourage you to work with applicable principles for bringing daylight and sunlight into buildings - including the effects of building construction and context of the site, shape and dimensions of window openings, screens, shadings, interior walls and surfaces, materials and the influence of external boundary conditions”

‘Daylight Investigations’, however, invites students to look at daylight in a more experimental way.

“The second category invites you to take a more scientific approach to daylight technology – including basics of optics and materials – or studies on the effect of daylight on state of mind, health and well-being. In this category we also welcome projects that deals with daylight in an outdoor city perspective.”

Where to start

Knowing the requirements to each category is the first step. The next is knowing where to start the work.

“A good starting point for ‘Daylight in Buildings’,” explains Andersen, “is to work with a realistic situation and a real challenge in your own neighborhood or country, whether it is a new building on a concrete building site; remodeling an existing building in the context of the city or a suburban area; or it can be a modest building in a landscape.”

“In this category, a specific focus would be appreciated; on architecture for health and well-being and projects that address challenges faced by the way we live in cities, communities and modern societies, and where daylight and architecture can help create better and healthier indoor living environments.”

Regional Winner from Western Europe in the Daylight Investigations category, Nicolas Shurey, studied how famous Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi used daylight in his paintings to create a specific 'grammar'.

The ‘Daylight Investigations’ category, on the other hand, calls for different methods.

“The best starting point is a simple idea - not necessarily by suggesting very complicated or complex ideas but merely by focusing on simple ideas with a big impact,” says Andersen and gives some examples.

“You could look at models, developed and tested in simple scale and including experimentation with classical techniques like hand-drawn sketches and photography.”

“In this category, a specific focus would be appreciated on; the use of daylight in public space for functional, recreational, cultural or spiritual use and the effect of daylight on state of mind, health and well-being,” says Andersen.

Innovative Uses of VELUX products

In addition to the two daylight categories, the judges will also give prizes for innovative uses of VELUX products within a project.

Enzo Piero Vergara Vaccia, Regional Winner from the Americas in the Daylight in Buildings category studied how you could transform a dark, cold parking building in Santiago, Chile by introducing daylight.

“Even though the award is not restricted to the use of VELUX products,” explains Andersen, “we would love to see projects that demonstrate innovative or even alternative use of specific VELUX components as daylight providers. There might be ways of designing with roof windows and skylights that we have not seen before or ideas to further explore the use of solar shading or glare control.”

Rule of thumb

If you are still unsure which category your project fits into, Andersen has a final rule of thumb to help you:

“Working with daylight inside a building, even when working with one simple daylight opening in a room – would fit into the ‘Daylight in Buildings’ category. An innovative idea e.g. related to storage or transportation of light outside the buildings or a project related to daylight on street level or covering an urban plaza would fit into the ‘Daylight Investigations’ category. ‘Innovative use of VELUX products’ will be considered within both categories.”

No matter which category you choose to work with, it is important to remember the role of daylight in promoting wellbeing and healthy living.

“It is widely accepted and generally understood today that sunlight plays a vital role in human health and wellbeing, and we know that the design of our built environment can have long-term implications for quality of life. How to ensure the benefits of daylight, in terms of view, spectrum and variability - into the buildings and the lives of people is a central issue for both categories.“

Check out the 2016 Winners page to see how students have interpreted the categories previously.

By Mariann Eliassen