4.430 | Spring 2012 | Graduate



Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


The primary focus of this course is the study of natural and electric lighting in an architectural context. The course promotes the integration of occupant comfort, energy efficiency and daylight availability throughout the design process and places an emphasis upon the role light can play in shaping architecture. Students will learn a series of design techniques from rules of thumb and simulations to high dynamic range photography and physical model building. Throughout the course students will work in groups and apply these techniques to a semester‐long course project. The course projects will be determined in discussion with the instructor.

In order to develop a feeling for the physical quantities related to light and daylight, students will initially measure, simulate and evaluate the daylighting in a local space. Students will then build a massing model of their project and test it in a heliodon. A series of voluntary workshops during which the different design techniques will be practiced is offered. Additionally, a series of guest lecturers from practitioners and scholars in the field will broaden the students’ understanding of light and its impact on human health and performance.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • formulate their own definition of what constitutes “good” lighting,
  • conduct a series of daylighting design techniques from rules of thumb and simulation to high dynamic range photography and physical model building,
  • develop a comprehensive lighting strategy for their projects.


An introductory course on building science (for example, 4.461 Architectural Building Systems), and a working knowledge of Rhinoceros® are required for this course.

Required Materials and Resources

The simulation environment used throughout the course will be a Rhino® plug‐in for daylighting and energy simulations and analysis called DIVA‐for‐Rhino, which runs on PCs. It is based on Radiance, DAYSIM, and EnergyPlus. Students will need a copy of Rhino® V4.0 SR8 or higher to use the plug‐in on their computers.

DIVA-for-Rhino is available with a license through Solemma LLC. A user guide for DIVA-for-Rhino is a recommended resource for those who are just familiarizing themselves with the software.

More guides and tutorials for daylighting and energy modeling are available through Sustainable Design Lab @ MIT.

Students will need a digital camera to carry out high dynamic range photography for glare analysis.

Students will also need an illuminance meter. It is recommended to purchase a multipurpose device such as an environmental meter that is capable of measuring humidity, temperature, air velocity, and light (with a color correction filter).


There are six homework assignments that are designed to help students apply concepts to their course projects throughout the term. Students are expected to give a short midterm presentation on their projects in class. The instructor will provide feedback for the students to consider and incorporate for their final presentations at the end of term.


Assignments 45%
Midterm presentation 10%
Final presentation 30%
Class participation 15%

The grading of the midterm and final presentations will be based on the:

  • clarity of the project’s (day) lighting objectives,
  • originality and inner logic of the design techniques used,
  • comprehensiveness of the final design solution,
  • overall quality of the presentation.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2012
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets
Lecture Notes
Activity Assignments
Design Assignments