Architectural Daylighting Tools, Fall 2009

CSCI 4963 Architectural Daylighting Tools, Fall 2009

General Information

Instructor: Barb Cutler,
Meeting Times: Wednesdays 10am-11:50am (tentatively)
Location: MRC 334 (conference room on southwest corner of 3rd floor)

Course Description

Daylighting is the use of windows and reflective surfaces to allow natural light from the sun and sky to provide effective and interesting internal illumination. Appropriate daylighting strategies can reduce energy consumption for electric lighting and create more interesting and comfortable architectural spaces. There are many aspects to designing a tool: aesthetics, efficiency, usability, scientific relevance, its "fun-factor", and history, among others. Graduate and undergraduate students from computer science, architecture, and engineering will form interdisciplinary teams to design, prototype, and evaluate novel technologies for architectural design.

There are no prerequisites for this course.
Permission of instructor required for registration.
(1 unit)

Learning Outcomes

Students who have successfully completed this course will be able to:
  • Describe the principles of green design related to architectural daylighting and the challenges in tackling these complex systems.
  • Bring their expertise in computer science, architecture, or engineering to an interdisciplinary team working to solve interesting problems.
  • Engage in effective communication strategies while working on interdiscplinary teams.


  • Advanced Rendering Techniques for Accurate Lighting Simulation
    • Ray Tracing
    • Radiosity
    • Photon Mapping
  • Existing Daylighting Analysis and Design Tools (physical & digital)
    • Heliodon
    • Radiance
    • Ecotect
    • Sketchup
  • Case studies from architecture and the challenges of effective daylighting design
    • Green Building design
    • Glare and overheating risks
  • User study methodology to evaluate new technology


Interdisciplinary seminar bringing together computer science, architecture, engineering, and human computer interaction. Attendance and participation in the weekly meetings is mandatory.
  • Present and discuss academic publications from computer graphics and human computer interaction.
  • Evaluate existing user interfaces, focusing on those for architectural design.
  • Propose and prototype new user interfaces for architectural design.
  • Design and conduct informal and formal user studies of existing architectural design tools and proposed new interfaces.
  • Document findings from these user studies.


Each students final grade in the course will be a based on:
  • Attendance & scribing: 10%
  • In class participation: 40%
  • Special topic presentation: 20%
  • Mid-semester discussion/proposal: 10%
  • End-of-semester writeup: 20%

Course wiki

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