How do you design an office to let in light while addressing solar heat gain?

Natural lighting plays a big role in making us feel comfortable within a space. Our design for an office in suburban Texas maximises access to natural daylight while reducing the thermal exposure to create a sustainable solution.

Located in the Llano Estacado, Lubbock is a city which experiences long, hot summers and relatively mild winters. Tasked with designing the façade of an office building within a suburban commercial lot, our challenge was in creating a sense of place within a tabula rasa landscape.

Betenbough Homes, the owner of the development, already had two red brick buildings erected on an adjacent lot and wanted the third one to have the same design language.

Using brick as the primary façade material, we studied the solar diagrams of Lubbock in order to maximize the daylight attainable while reducing the solar heat gain. Each elevation is thus designed according to the climatical requirements of the building. To the south, where the sun is highest in the sky and heat is a major concern, the windows are set within large recesses to shelter them from direct sunlight, while elevations to the east and west are mostly concerned with sunlight from low in the horizon, so windows are tilted away from the south to reduce direct penetration while still allowing for indirect sunlight.

The façade also serves the break down the building into a more relatable scale. As is common in Texas and other parts of America where the car is the primary mode of transport, the building has to work at both an urban scale and a human scale. The design responds to this by creating a silhouette reminiscent of the other two existing buildings on the site, while at closer inspection, the recesses along the façade are angled differently to create a more intimate connection between the inside, outside and user.

In order to bring light into the depths of the building, a courtyard is introduced in the centre of the building. This double volume allows daylight to flood the internal spaces so that no place in the office is more than 10m away from a window. The garden also allows staff to step out from the office, connecting the building with the outdoors.

Lubbock, US