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For over a decade research work in the Windows and Daylighting Group has focused on identifying and quantifying the architectural and energy impacts of daylighting. We have looked at the energy-saving potential of daylighting, its role as an enhancement or supplement for electric lighting systems, and its effect on the quality of interior spaces. Convinced that daylighting can have a beneficial impact in all of these aspects, we have over the last few years turned our attention to the application of daylighting design knowledge. Existing methods to facilitate better daylighting design appear to have had little impact in the built environment. We are therefore developing new design tools to encourage the use of daylighting by making the necessary technical information and design data more accessible and useful for designers than traditional reference materials and design tools.
Some recent advances in the computer world are helping us bridge the gap between the promises of research and the reality of design application. The friendly environment of current microcomputers and new software implementations of a concept in electronic information systems known as hypertext present new possibilities in the realm of technology transfer. Unlike traditional written information systems, hypertext has the ability to flexibly link data in a nonlinear fashion, allowing different users to move through the information differently. These new electronic systems may also include sound, animation and video as well as traditional text and images, expanding the hypertext concept to hypermedia. Part of the genesis of this software is in a recognized global need for the sharing of information; the parallel to architectural design is immediately seen, as ever-increasing demands on the profession highlight a growing need for accessible reference information.
The Windows and Daylighting Group is currently developing a daylight design tool using hypermedia tools. The intent is to first supplement, and eventually replace, written manuals and other references, whose size or structure are too cumbersome or otherwise forbidding to be used in a typical design process. The tool is intended to be a guide for both design and educational tasks. Currently in the early stages of development, the tool will ultimately take advantage of state-of-the-art multimedia hardware while the software will combine data and expert guidance into a fluid and dynamic design tool.