Clerestory windows are a unique element of architectural embellishment that illuminate a room, and make it radiant the way other fenestrations cannot. They offer a beautiful way to bring daylight into a room while maintaining privacy or function. They also help light travel a little further into a space that is located towards the center of the home preventing it from becoming a blind spot. Regardless of how they serve clerestory windows truly enhance a space through the addition of subtle, natural light.
1. Island of Calm by Ar. Dean Nota
The Clerestory windows appear to peek at the top of the walls as if the roof were the lid of a box and the exterior walls it’s encasing. They fill the already open, airy kitchen with sunlight and stand out as a prominent feature visible from the street, giving both the building and its neighborhood character and connection. It acts as a visual link but only selectively as Nota explains how the idea was to “get the house up in the air,” ensuring privacy from the street below.
2. Waxman House by Barry Moffitt
The Waxman House on Buena Park Drive is a vertical composition of stacked volumes that rise against the street to a formidable height towering over the San Fernando Valley. It is more vertical than horizontal in orientation with large clerestory windows connecting the outside to the inside whilst maintaining the privacy of the users at the same time. The windows help bring in sunlight along with the panoramic views of the beautiful valley it sits amidst.
3. House in Connecticut I, (Renovation) by Toshiko Mori
The House in Connecticut I was renovated by Toshiko Mori in preservation with the Marcel Breuer designed residence alongside the addition of a newer volume adjacent to it. The newer mass is connected to the original one via a glass-enclosed staircase. The theme of using glass in varying opacities and to both ensure privacy and provide views towards the original structure and landscape can be seen throughout the design.
The interiors feature a muted palette of white and greys keeping in tandem with the play of glass and its levels of transparencies. This is heightened by the use of clerestory windows along with other fenestrations to increase the visibility of the outside from inside and vice versa.
4. Crab Creek House by Robert Gurney Architect
The clerestory windows in this house are very tastefully placed to draw attention to the otherwise simple linear form of the building. They offer a much-required porosity to the solid façade via its careful placement throughout the entire design.
The clerestories are used differently for different spaces in the house, running as a continuous band in some places and isolated in smaller sizes in others, fulfilling different purposes through their changing silhouettes.
5. Curvy House by Ben Callery Architects
The house gets its name from the architect’s decision to curve the roof upwards in order to admit more light into it. This project is part of a series in which he has explored creative methods of getting sunlight into difficult spaces while creating an uplifting feeling for the occupant.
The house had walls built on both sides which made getting light in quite a challenge, hence the roof was peeled towards the northern sky and clerestory windows bordered the periphery of the roofline forming the perfect solution by bringing light in at all times of the day.
6. Mill Valley Courtyard Residence by Aidlin Darling Design
The client’s request was to create a residence with an extremely quiet street presence. So in accordance with the listed requirements, a plan providing great privacy for (and from) the neighbors was drawn up.
Whilst maintaining the privacy of the residents it was also important to provide a connection with the outdoors and this was achieved with the help of strategically placed openings with bands of clerestory windows providing just enough transparency to enjoy the dramatic view over the southerly valley and forested hillside.
7. Tribeca Penthouse by Robert Kahn
This penthouse in Tribeca evokes a sense of drama and style in the way the light filters into the double-height living room via the expansive clerestory windows. The windows here perform much more than just build a visual connection of the outside with the inside; they add character and pizazz to the simplicity of the space by the sheer size of its façade, bringing in different tones and intensities of light as the sun changes position throughout the day.
8. House with an inverted pyramid by SAOTA
The dominant feature of this house is an inverted pyramid roof which creates clerestory windows around the upper level. It allows the building to open up to the views of the sky bringing the sun and moon into the house, reinforcing the connection with nature and the surrounding landscape. The clerestories add a touch of uniqueness by helping capture the views of the Mountains and lush greenery it sits amidst creating an experience which would have been impossible to create through ordinary fenestrations.
9. Into the Woods
The house, renovated by Griffin Enright Architects and architect Elyse Grinstein echoes a dynamic geometry creating a loft-style bedroom. It contains a clerestory window as well as a skylight placed alongside the angular ceiling and sloping roofline. These windows are a unique product of the bent roof structure. Similar examples of such roofline windows can be found throughout the house offering breathtaking views of the surrounding scenic beauty.
10. Hamptons Home by Shelton Mindel Associates
The renovation carried out by Shelton Mindel Associates was done to replicate the views of what lay outside the house by permeating it through large spanning windows. Slightly warm hues of wood with a seamless pattern of vertical grains were complemented by rectangular clerestory windows to bring in a heavenly stream of light to illuminate the inside. Linear pieces of furniture juxtaposed beautifully the row of windows adding a semblance of geometry to the spaces that were inhabited by it.
11. Toronto Townhouse by Raymond Murakami
Clerestory windows are a special feature that belongs to the kitchen allowing plenty of natural light to flood the interiors, brightening up the dining space adjoining the kitchen along with it at the same time.
12. Bart Prince’s Light filled residence in New Mexico
The house’s design is based upon that of a semicircle. The windows are placed such that each room is visible from every other location on that particular floor making it extremely porous but the view of neighboring residences is impeded by the nature of its half-circle-based plan. The clerestory windows not only fill the gaps as structural support members but also add to the porous nature of the residence’s character by filtering in plenty of natural light along with spectacular views of the building itself.
13. Elliot Bay House by FINNE
The Elliott Bay House is wrapped around the gorgeous Puget Sound view. The main living space has sweeping views of the same and the Olympic Mountains. The master bedroom upstairs is cantilevered to expose panoramic views of the Puget Sound view. It is clad in ceiling to floor glass windows, with large clerestories in continuation with the simple metal-framed transparent entities adding a touch of minimalistic candour to the dramatic waterfront that lay ahead.
14. Mazama House by FINNE
Mazama House is characterized by numerous glass fixtures so that one can enjoy the views of the picturesque setting it is located within- right in the heart of the Methow Valley of Washington State. The roof is pitched and angularly curved in places with features such as deep overhangs, built-in shades and clerestory windows to reduce heat gain in summer months. During the winter, however, the sun can penetrate deep into the house via those very strategically placed clerestory windows. The windows here play a major role in making the building climate-responsive along with beautifully complementing the warm wooden wall finishes.
15. Port Ludlow by FINNE
The Port Ludlow Residence is a beautiful composition of glazed living space. Every room is punctuated by large windows spanning almost the entire height of the rooms they belong to, creating a very chic interior out of the different tones of timber and the complimentary glass facades. The clerestory windows do not stand out as a separate feature but rather seem to blend in with the overall appearance of the glazed façade accentuating the height of the structure as they contribute to creating a seamless indoor-outdoor space.
16. Athena Calderone’s Hamptons House
In the renovation of her midcentury beach home in Amagansett, New York, Athena Calderone creates a beautifully crafted and carefully curated mix of elements that add a touch of warmth and earthiness to her Long Island home. The color palette together with the choice of furnishings adds a sense of calm to the overall atmosphere of the house. This feeling of peace is enhanced by the seamless continuation of the exposed wooden joists as clerestory windows, flooding the interiors with just enough sunlight to add a touch of warmth, both in color and temperature, in keeping with the overall rhythm of the place.
17. Renovated Texas Bungalow by Murray Legge Architecture
The interior renovation of this Texas Bungalow which belonged to a local newspaper editor and her family revolved around the idea of combining the kitchen, living and dining functions to create a continuous space. The roof was altered from its previously pitched form to a flat plane exposing its wooden structural joists drawing the eye upwards. Clerestory windows were positioned in continuation with the structural joists to accentuate them even further along with keeping with the theme and adding a complete look to the design as a whole.
18. Mid-century Modern Renovation
Architect Don DiRocco of Hammer Architects, partnered with Principal Mark Hammer to create a modern dwelling for a mother and her four children. The owner being a former professional chef requested for the kitchen to act as the center of the home so by lifting the roof and adding a band of clerestory windows the kitchen transformed into a well-lit space with an abundance of sunlight and fresh air acting as the focal point in the house.
19. Adelaide Bungalow in Australia
This bungalow has a continuous span of glass for clerestory windows as they rest against the entire length of the wall. Looking from an angle it almost looks like the glass-clad wall is the clerestory window to the floor below but it makes for a beautiful addition to the traditional looking bungalow and has long spanning roof eaves designed to allow winter sun into the house while cutting out the hot summer sun.
20. Artist Residence by Heliotrope Architects
This Seattle based residence that also goes by the name of Central District Residence belonged to an artist and an engineer who wished for a home that was contemporary but not wholly out of context with the neighborhood. They wanted to be able to view the outside but also retain a strong sense of privacy and hence there was great care and detail with which the fenestrations were designed and placed within the house—opening it up inwards with mostly single pane and clerestory windows forming the sole connection between the interior and exterior.
21. Classic Sarasota School Modernism
The Sarasota School of Architecture blurs previously defined lines between inside and outside. It does so with the help of full-length panels of sliding glass aided by the addition of clerestory windows, which beautifully transmit light as well as the views of the surrounding landscape into the structure. The clerestories are not designed in a single straight line; they exude dynamism in their appearance by dropping down wherever possible to admit maximum light into the spaces they find themselves surrounded by.
22. Toronto Home Art Studio
The windows of the house’s front room draw in sunlight as well as offer views of the front courtyard located right before it. The expanse of spaces are admittedly vast but illumination for such large expanses becomes a problem and clerestory windows offer the perfect solution for problems of this nature, allowing light to travel further into the rooms angling sunlight in a way that other windows cannot.
23. Preston Hollow by Wernerfield Architects
The Preston Hollow was designed for a couple who seemed to have variedly different choices of interiors in the beginning but in the end, the result was a harmonious composition tending to the likes of both tastes. The living room was balanced between exposed ceiling beams and artful aluminum storefront windows creating an elegant aesthetic with clerestory windows following the length of the pitched roofline opening up the living room, making it appear larger than it actually was.
24. Historic Boise Home
The historic Boise Home was renovated to accommodate varying shapes and sizes of fenestrations. In fact, the most favorite characteristics of the house’s owner is the changing quality of light throughout the different seasons and the clerestory windows have a major role to play in the fulfillment of that very event.
25. Mid-century Modern Miami Estate by Henry End
This mid-century modern Miami estate was designed by an international hospitality interior designer Henry End, who in fact was the resident of the same property not too long ago. The single-level home built on an oversized corner lot is a fine specimen of End’s ode to the original architecture of the piece. The roof is made to look afloat resting on top of the clerestory windows that bring in abundant quantities of natural light. The windows not only act as a member of structural support but also help achieve a level of illusory competence by virtue of the see-through nature of its being.