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Maritime and Beachcombers Museum: Daylight done right

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April 3, 2012

The distinctive vertical wooden slats that make up the facades of the Kaap Skil Maritime a...

The distinctive vertical wooden slats that make up the facades of the Kaap Skil Maritime and Beachcombers Museum let in diffuse daylight lending the museum a bright but softly-lit interior

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The Kaap Skil Maritime and Beachcombers Museum constructed on the Dutch island of Texel opened to the public on Friday, and it's a how-to of daylight design in architecture. The distinctive vertical wooden slats that make up the museum's facades, unquestionably the building's predominant feature, let in diffuse daylight lending the museum a bright but softly-lit interior. But that's not the only trick up its sleeve.

Designed by the Dutch multidisciplinary design outfit Mecanoo architecten, the museum harkens back to a centuries-old tradition of recycling on the island where (according to the press release) inhabitants once built their houses from the driftwood of wrecked ships washing up on the island's shores. Though not made from driftwood, the museums wooden facades are recycled, from hardwood sheet-piling salvaged from the North Holland Canal.

As Mecanoo puts it, the wooden facades "cast a linear pattern of daylight and shadow" - and the interior photos show a soft, naturally lit space with daylight streaming in through the full-height glazed walls that stand within the wooden exoskeleton.

Some of the roof peaks play host to clerestory windows, letting light through one incline,...

Probably the second most notable feature is the museum's four-gabled roof, intended to resemble the waves of the sea (the island of Texel has a rich maritime history, once being a setting-off point for ships in the Dutch East India company). But the interior photography betrays a more practical purpose to the roof. Some of its peaks play host to clerestory windows, letting light through one incline, and reflecting it off the opposite face. The result is that much of the daylight penetrating the spaces is reflected from interior walls, which further softens and diffuses the quality of the illumination. Letting light in from above brings daylight much further into the interior, and can dramatically reduce the need for artificial lighting - much more than windows (or even fully-glazed walls) can alone.

Daylight optimization is a considerable challenge to building designers, looking to get as much light into the space as possible, but without sacrificing the quality of the visual environment or causing a greenhouse effect that would necessitate energy-expensive air conditioning. The wooden slats employed here are effectively exterior solar shades disguised as building decoration - but the results are unarguably effective. This is one to file under daylight done right.

Source: Mecanoo architecten

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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