Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Daylight Control and Window Design In Apartments

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posted on 2023-04-16, 21:34 authored by Mackenzie Doyle

The window design in New Zealand apartments can be limited to their design qualities as they are required to meet the minimum code from Acceptable Solutions G7/AS2. The windows produced under the Building Code standard are not necessarily designed and positioned correctly to optimise light in terms of daylight distribution (Boubekri, 2014). Nor are they designed to provide liveable and habitable qualities where the occupants can sit, stand, or lie down. This can have negative implications on an occupant’s well-being (Bevins III et al., 2012, p. 31).

The aim of this thesis is to design windows that create habitable spaces and manipulate light rather than just being an opening in a wall. 

This paper uses a research-through-design approach. Literature and precedent studies have been analysed to determine the importance of good quality window design that the occupants can inhabit. The strategy of this research is to address the current problem with the window design within the Natural Light Acceptable Solutions G7/AS method in New Zealand and compare it with new enhanced habitable window designs.

To understand the complexity of this, an apartment building has been designed as a testing framework. This framework is used to test quantitative and qualitative metrics. This framework also allowed testing against the Acceptable Solutions baseline method G7/AS and several new window designs. The baseline window solution was established and then compared against a new set of windows that have been designed for the potential to have better habitable qualities. The key simulation metric used is the Daylight Autonomy (DA), modelled through Honeybee heat maps.

The first concept set of windows provided good daylight distribution throughout the building. They also over-provided with excess daylight. Revising the window sizes provided for a more precise window design for each room. The size of the glazing changed, and the overall percentage of wall-to-glazing area decreased.

The Building Code Acceptable Solutions method designed windows with no habitable qualities. They were not designed to tilt towards the sun or respond to orientation and lacked important qualities that could improve the well-being and liveability of the occupants. Habitability starts when a window can provide more than just daylight provision. Designing windows that provide habitability qualities have been found to produce good quality daylight distribution, as well as provide a place where the occupants can sit, stand, lay down or put potted plants.

This thesis successfully revealed that new windows could be designed to meet the New Zealand Building Code and provide more habitable qualities, and are superior for the occupant’s well-being. 


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains All Rights

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Wilhelm, Hans-Christian