|In Victorian era homes, a "borrowed light"—|
basically, a normal window placed in an
interior wall—brought natural light
into landlocked rooms.
There were a number of ways to obtain natural light beside windows. Skylights and roof windows were used in many types of buildings, although they weren’t common in homes because of their expense and proclivity to leak.
|Transoms were used to light hallways|
and provide cross ventilation.
In homes, however, the interior window or “borrowed light” was the most popular device for lighting deep interior areas. Some borrowed lights were simply standard windows installed in interior walls to transmit or “borrow” light from a bright room to one in which there were no windows—for example, between a kitchen and an interior pantry.
allowed the sash to be
opened without reaching.
|Edison and the|
In the late nineteenth century, multistory office buildings took the transom to its most extreme form: Many office partitions were built entirely of glass to allow light to penetrate into “landlocked’ interior spaces. Edison’s invention of the incandescent lamp in 1878 eventually reduced the need for borrowed light. Nevertheless, natural light from openable windows remained more desirable—and less expensive—than artificial light.
|LED lighting: Efficient—but not|
more efficient than natural light.
|Borrowed lights: The idea is simple,|
and the light is free.
All of the natural lighting devices that worked for the Victorians—skylights, roof windows, clearstories, monitors, and especially borrowed lights—are still excellent ways of bringing sunlight deep into interiors spaces. Try one of them at your house. The idea is simple, and the light is free.