Exposure to natural light from the sun helps people produce vitamin D in their skin, which is associated with good health and longevity in humans. Ocular exposure to sunlight regulates our internal clock, and can improve mental health. Lack of natural light is associated with nearsightedness. In extreme amounts, sun exposure can also increase risk of sunburns and melanoma.
Buildings which permit natural light to enter increase the amount of time occupants get the health benefits of solar exposure, especially in temperate or cloudy climates. Creating public and common spaces with ample natural light can have the added benefit of improving social connectivity. Avoiding and reducing shadows, especially by taller buildings, is advised in such spaces.
“On a local level, city authorities, urban planners and policymakers must prioritize good ‘daylighting’ — sufficient access to natural light to improve public health and quality of life. Access to natural light must be integrated into the early stages of urban planning. All applications should supply a thorough analysis of the shadows that will be cast by proposed buildings. Moreover, businesses and schools could encourage employees and children to take longer lunch breaks outside.” (Zielinska-Dabkowska and Xavia, 2019)
“Architects should integrate courtyards, internal gardens and skylights to let in as much daylight as possible. Codes and standards for natural lighting must be updated. Better access to outdoor spaces should be provided for children, elderly people, nursing-home residents and people with disabilities. More research is needed to develop alternative models for urban expansion that don’t diminish the many benefits of natural light.” (Zielinska-Dabkowska and Xavia, 2019)
Zielinska-Dabkowska, K. M., & Xavia, K. (2019, April 23). Protect our right to light. Nature. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01238-y