Monthly Archives: May 2016

Let sunlight in through a tube

It can be a wonder solution to our crowded city homes that can help cut down on electricity bills.


The tubelight still lights up many homes and many elders continue to love it though its era is over, replaced by CFL and now LED bulbs. But should we believe that it has staged a comeback? Yes, not as electric lights, but as tubes that bring in natural sunlight through the wall or roof.

All this goes to prove the human need for sunlight and our desperate attempts to get it into our own creation of dark interiors. Much has already been written about the health benefits of sun light. Yet, why are we designing deeply enclosed and dark places in the first place? Even in the discussions around green buildings, there is much importance to the daylight factor, though it is often achieved through technically advanced, hence costlier glass-based solutions. Possibly, concerns of this kind must have led designers to evolve simpler, alternative ideas to divert outdoor light into the indoors.

Simply stated, the light tube is a pipe with transparent sheet at its mouth and highly reflective paint on the inner surface which transfers sunlight into a room. At the advanced level, we can also have panel precision cut through lasers, solar reflectors that face sun’s direction, reflective mirrors and such others. As a modern product, we get to see one at Forgotten Food Restaurant at Hasiru Thota in Bengaluru. However, the idea itself is an age-old experiment in forts and palaces of India, tried through narrow tube-like voids within the wall.

Light tubes open skywards and not sideways, hence can capture light for longer hours. Unlike in a window, there is no loss of privacy; unlike the skylight glass, it needs no cleaning and has no life cycle cost at all. The collector at the beginning and diffuser at the end are the major fitments which effect intensity of light, beside the inside finish. Shorter the length and fewer the bends, in principle, should be the way to design them.

Light tubes offer no glare and no direct sunlight that can affect our activities. By using appropriate materials, one can reduce infrared and ultraviolet waves which can result in reducing indoor heat, a frequent problem associated with light. The road elevation and indoor appearance may be mistaken for some industrial exhaust system; as such the aesthetic attraction of these tubes are subjective, hence may have to be located judiciously.

We are yet to have many manufacturers of the light tube, though it can be a wonder solution to our crowded city homes. Making one each for a home may not be economical; large-scale production of modular sizes being the only way to popularise it.

If we can not be eco-friendly in our daylight design, we can still enjoy a green home using light tubes.

Stay connected with Nature

If you shun eco-friendly architecture and opt for artificial lighting, mechanical ventilation and air conditioning, and work in box-like buildings, you will pay dearly.


It is many decades now since urban dwellers have adapted to a new lifestyle catered to and controlled by technological advances where we create light, supply air, condition the indoors and replace wall windows by wall papers. If we are proud of our achievements in creating such artificial contexts to live with, now it is time to be worried about. Air and light are not mere physical supplies, but means of sustaining life.

Principles of ecology has for too long been looked upon as data-based science, with eco-friendly architecture of the past dubbed as a by-product of technological limitations of those days. As such, we sought to replace natural phenomena by artificial light, mechanical ventilation and air conditioning, enclosing people in box-like buildings. However, thousands of staff working in completely artificial indoors may vouch how uncomfortable it is to work in such ambiences. Complaints like drowsiness, hair fall, dry eyes, skin vulnerable to allergies, headache, diluted attention and many more are commonly heard, with big theories now doing rounds around the ‘sick building syndrome.’

We know that extremely crowded areas with no trees, no green or no open spaces are more prone for aggressive human behaviour. Considering such slum-like conditions, we tend to equate them to poverty, high density living, family frustrations and such others, while the fact that dearth of day light and fresh air also contribute to this behaviour.

Human life flourishes in certain conditions of natural light, either in cold or in tropical regions; and such light is the energy, never the artificial light. For all living organisms, sun directly provides the energy needed to live, especially the plants.

Let us take the case of daylight to connect ecology to human health. When the right kind of sunlight falls on our body, the bone marrow gets stimulated, producing more red blood cells, enabling denser blood. If RBC count increases and lives longer, more oxygen supply happens, ensuring better health. From skin to calcium, everywhere daylight plays a major role. As many sunlight experts like Shrihari from Mysuru and others can endorse, it is the sun energy that ensures the biological cycle from the baby days to old age and can assist in anti-aging, and provide stronger bones, long lasting teeth or wrinkle-free skin. For all age-related problems, sunlight has a solution.

We have heard how people moving from India to the USA or Canada need to face extreme cold conditions with no visible sun for days, have to stay indoors, resulting in symptoms of depression and anxiety. On the contrary, people doing physical tasks outdoors expose their body to sunlight and surprisingly appear to have more robust health, despite minimal nutrition, unhygienic houses and irregular food habits.

It is time we realise we need to live with nature simply because we are a product of nature and avoiding it is like fish trying to avoid water.