One of Optima’s hallmark design principles is bridging outdoor and indoor environments through thoughtful architecture. Throughout history, many features of design have supported that same principle. Today, we’re exploring an ancient feature of architecture that continues to evolve with time and make its mark in delightful new ways — the skylight.
The concept of using natural light to brighten a room isn’t new. The skylight’s origin can be traced back to Ancient Roman architecture and design. The extravagant feature was regularly included in many Roman construction feats and was often referred to as an oculus. One of the most famous skylights of its time, the oculus at the Pantheon in Rome, still welcomes vibrant rays into the church today.
Over time, glass became a sought-after resource for use in grand development features like the skylight. As the industrial revolution began, more and more innovative architectural advancements came into play, including the fabrication of architectural glass work, allowing a growing number of architects to experiment with skylight design.
Architects around the world began incorporating skylights in their designs, which allowed them to play with volume, natural light and interior space in exciting new ways — much to the delight of their patrons who commissioned their work. Many of the most celebrated buildings erected from the mid-18th century through the early 19th century featured skylights, including the opulent Palace of Versailles and the elegant arcades of the Galerie Vivienne and Passage Jouffroy.
Our newest luxury residential development, Optima Lakeview, is dedicated to pushing the boundaries to offer a fresh, elevated sense of home; as part of the vision, we chose to orient the entire building design around a seven-story atrium, replete with a fixed in place, geometric skylight fabricated from steel and coated in our signature Optima Red. Beyond the design itself, the use of skylights floods the interior volume with natural light, offering residents and visitors a constant boost to their health and wellbeing.
The skylight has continued to evolve and expand its purpose. Modern adaptations, benefitting from new design thinking coupled with sophisticated engineering and materials, allow for more observable connections to outdoor environments and sustainable building standards, including energy and temperature conservation.
Today’s design professionals working on projects ranging from commercial buildings to retail centers to private residences continue to break new ground with skylights that provide exciting new features such as roof windows and other retractable roof lights that expose the outdoors. And with the ongoing research and interest in natural light’s many health benefits by scientists and architects alike, there is no doubt that the iconic skylight will continue evolving, with forward-thinking architects pushing the boundaries.