Architectural Lighting Solutions for DND’s New Farnham, PQ Kitchen and Dining Hall

Floor to ceiling curtain walls on the northeast and southeast allow morning light to flood the dining hall.


It is no secret that lighting design plays a central part in the atmosphere of an interior space. For an architect, light – both natural and artificial – is one of the basic building blocks of design. Light enhances space and materials, and conversely certain architectural shapes and features improve the distribution of light in a building’s interior.


Employers in the private sector are increasingly aware of the impact of workers’ well being on their productivity. An important part of workers’ comfort depends on a sufficient quantity of natural daylight, direct views to the outside, as well as appropriate lighting levels on work surfaces.


Concurrently in the public sector, the advent of sustainable design certifications, most notably the growing presence of LEED Canada in the past decade, has helped make interior environmental quality (IEQ) a priority. IEQ is one of the LEED credit categories, and certain LEED credits in this category are dedicated specifically to the quantity and quality of natural daylight in interior spaces.


These two tendencies in the private and public sectors have helped create a general awareness for the importance of access to natural light and well-designed artificial lighting.

The new kitchen and dining hall building, built for the National Defence at Farnham Garrison in Farnham, Quebec, accommodates workers and visitors in a bright, airy and functional space.


ThisLEED Gold certified building addresses a variety of environmental issues, including site ecology, light and air quality, water conservation, energy efficiency, and the use of sustainably sourced materials and resources. The building’s orientation and shape were largely determined by the functional need for free-flowing circulation, as well as the desire to maximize daylight. Many of the building’s architectural features, in fact, were determined by this concern for maximizing natural light.


The following are a few examples of simple design solutions employed in the new facilities to improve the quality of natural and artificial interior lighting, for the benefit of its occupants.


1. Large expanses of glass combined with well-positioned shading features, to reduce glare and overheating.A well-lit workspace should offer generous diffuse light with limited glare, to avoid fatigue. Areas where occupants spend less time can tolerate a bit more direct sunlight, but this should be limited so as to reduce overheating and excessive air conditioning. In the new Farnham building, floor to ceiling curtain walls on the northeast and southeast allow morning light to flood the dining hall. Roof overhangs, careful selection of glazing types and tree plantations at the southeast-facing curtain wall limit glare and solar gain, while maximizing views and natural light in the entrance hall and dining area.

The food preparation area also features large window bays at the north and south extremities of the space. These walls of glass are set in recessed exterior alcoves, thus reducing the direct glare of the sun on the south side, while still providing daylight and direct views to the outside.


2.Clerestory windows: strip windows placed high in an exterior wall, ideally just below ceiling level.Clerestory windows bring in natural light at the top of walls where there are no obstructions, and allow light to project deep into a space. This strategy is particularly useful in warehouse spaces where lower portions of exterior walls are needed for storage or other utilities, rather than windows. It is also useful in the centre of buildings with large floor plates, where there would otherwise be no access to exterior walls. In the Farnham project, the meal servery area is far from any exterior wall, but a shift in roof heights between the servery and food preparation area allows for an 80-foot long strip window just below the ceiling on the northwest side. This provides diffuse natural light into the space during all day hours


3.Light shelves. A light shelf is a horizontal surface, usually placed at the base or adjacent to a window above eye-level, and whose purpose is to reflect daylight onto the ceiling and deeper into a space.In the Farnham washroom areas, high strip windows with light shelves demonstrate this simple and efficient way of spreading natural light deep into a building.


4.Indirect light fixtures, coupled with accent lighting in appropriate locations.Indirect (upward facing) light fixtures mimic the effect of diffuse natural light and have the capacity of providing a general glow in a space. This can be coupled with (downward facing) accent lights in well-chosen locationsto enhance an architectural feature, mark a path, or provide appropriate light levels for a given task.


The entrance hall to the building uses suspended direct/indirect fluorescent fixtures to provide a combination of diffuse light from above and direct light down the centre of the hall, leading guests from the main doors into the servery.


In early winter mornings and evenings, the high ceilings of the dining hall are lit by high-efficiency, dimmable and programmable, upward-pointing LED spotlights, which had initially been designed as downward-facing streetlights. This uplighting has the dual purpose of providing diffuse light by reflecting off the white ceiling, while highlighting the sculptural wood structure just below the ceiling.


The new Farnham dining facilities have exceeded the client’s technical requirements by achieving LEED Gold – a first for DND in the province of Quebec and for the Canadian army across the country. In addition, by providing beauty, light and interesting spatial qualities, we believe it has increased the level of user comfort and well-being.


Marc Bertrand is a founding partner of FABRIQ architecture and was the project manager for the new kitchen and dining hall at Farnham Garrison.


FABRIQ architecture is an architectural office based in Montreal. The firm comprises three senior architectural partners with 21 years of experience each, as well as an experienced technical staff. Since its beginnings in 2000, FABRIQ has produced a wide gamut of projects, including new construction, additions, interior renovations, and building envelope renovations. The firm works in all types of construction, whether public or private, institutional, commercial or residential. Projects have spanned the coasts of Canada and the USA, from Halifax to Vancouver and New York to Los Angeles, and overseas to the Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and China. The portfolio includes seven major projects designed to LEED Silver or higher standards.


Project information:


New Kitchen and Dining Hall, Garrison Farnham, Quebec


New 2075 m2 single-storey building, to house kitchen and dining hall facilities for National Defense at Farnham Garrison in Farnham, Quebec. The dining hall is designed to accommodate 300 seats, and the kitchen has a normal capacity of 600 meals (2 services) per hour.Lighting supplier: Luxtec. Construction completed in July 2012. LEED NC Gold certification obtained in June 2014


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