Skylight Design in Nepali Architecture: Canopies vs. Open Skylights

Skylights have long been a preferred architectural design element in both Nepali and international architecture, bringing natural light into the space. Skylight design in Nepali Architecture is influenced by unique climatic and architectural factors. Let’s talk about the differences and similarities between canopies and open skylights, and take a deeper look at why window-style open skylights, popular in many countries, may not be as convenient in Nepal. The Concept of Skylights and Canopies Skylights are basically windows in the roof or ceiling that allow natural light to penetrate indoor spaces. They are available in a range of designs, such as tubular, ventilated, and fixed skylights. Canopies, on the other hand, serve a similar purpose to skylights but are often designed with additional structural elements to provide shade and protection from the elements. Open Skylights: Popular Worldwide, Less So in Nepal Global Architecture Perspective Open skylights are widely used in countries with relatively mild and predictable climates. They are particularly famous in Europe and North America, where they offer numerous benefits: Why not in Nepal? Skylight Design in Nepali Architecture tends to favor more sheltered and structurally reinforced installations to mitigate risks associated with a variety of factors, including; Climate: Nepal experiences diverse climatic conditions, from the humid subtropical regions in the south to the alpine climate in the north. The unpredictability of heavy monsoon rains, potential snow loads in mountainous regions, and intense sunlight can make open skylights less practical. Maintenance: Open skylights require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent leaks, drafts, and accumulation of dirt. Given Nepal’s variable weather, maintaining open skylights can be more challenging Earthquake-Prone Region: Nepal is in a seismically active zone. Skylights need to be designed with structural integrity to withstand tremors, adding to the complexity and cost. Canopies: A Practical Alternative for Nepali Architecture Canopies serve the same primary function as skylights—allowing natural light to enter—while offering additional protection. They can be considered an evolution of the skylight concept, offering these benefits; Protection from Elements: Canopies provide shade and shelter from rain and snow, making them suitable for Nepal’s diverse climate. Ventilation Control: Canopies can be designed to facilitate airflow while protecting interiors from direct exposure to harsh weather. Structural Stability: Canopies can be reinforced to withstand seismic activity, making them a safer choice in earthquake-prone areas. A look back at the history In traditional Nepali architecture, elements similar to canopies have long been used. The “jali” screens and intricately carved wooden overhangs in Newari architecture serve both aesthetic and functional purposes, controlling light and airflow while adding cultural value. Canopies vs. Open Skylights: A Comparative Insight Feature Open Skylights (Window Style) Canopies (Nepali Context) Natural Lighting Direct and intense Diffused and controlled Ventilation Can be opened for ventilation Provides indirect ventilation Protection from Elements Less protective against rain, snow, and intense sun Superior protection against weather Maintenance Requires regular cleaning and maintenance Lower maintenance, easier to clean Structural Stability Needs additional reinforcement for seismic safety Naturally more stable, can be reinforced easily Cultural Integration Modern aesthetic Blends with traditional Nepali architecture A suggestion Toughened laminated glass is ideal for canopies and skylights due to its superior safety, strength, and durability. This type of glass undergoes a heat treatment process that makes it significantly stronger than regular glass. Additionally, it is composed of multiple layers bonded together with a plastic interlayer, ensuring that even if the glass breaks, it remains intact without falling apart. This combination of toughened and laminated properties provides enhanced protection against impacts, weather conditions, and potential breakage, making it a reliable and secure choice for both residential and commercial applications. Last Few Words Open skylights face challenges in Nepal due to weather and seismic concerns. Canopies offer a culturally integrated alternative providing light, ventilation, and stability, ideal for Nepali architecture. For inquiries related to skylights, contact us at 9851111675 or get in touch with us through our social media pages.

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