Addressing the challenges of daylighting in urban row homes

A windowless kitchen in a historic Puerto Rican row home is transformed with LIGHTGLASS, accentuating the existing character and charm of the space.


In many of the world’s most celebrated historic cities, row homes are the most prevalent type of housing. They have stood the test of time, being transformed over centuries to meet the needs of their respective homeowners. However, row homes face a fundamental challenge when it comes to lighting. These long narrow spaces typically only allow sunlight in from the front and back of the structure because of adjacent row homes on either side, leaving the central part of the home without windows or sufficient daylight. This can make the home feel dark, unwelcoming, and claustrophobic. In order to solve this problem for a homeowner in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, LIGHTGLASS created a windowlight to bring the experience of daylight into their windowless kitchen.

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This historic home is full of thoughtful architectural details and beautiful woodwork. In order to tie the contemporary LIGHTGLASS windowlight into the character of this Old San Juan home, wooden balustrades were fabricated to match the adjacent staircase. In addition to honoring the existing design and finishes in the home, the balustrades also create a visual obstruction in front of the LIGHTGLASS . This helps to satisfy the desire for a view out of the window, and adds another element of depth and realism to the window experience.

Here is what the homeowner has to say:

“Having grown up the son of a real estate agent, I learned very early old real estate axiom of Location and Light. This axiom is of course true in real estate. However, what does one do when you have the perfect location but very little light? In our home in Berkeley we had a kitchen with limited light. I removed some trees, expanded one of the windows and installed a solar tube. Problem solved. However, the apartment in San Juan had no such possible remedy. I had seen LIGHTGLASS at an IES event I was attending and began looking into it. We had an indentation in the wall, inexplicably, but it was there. I measured it and found LIGHTGLASS had a solution that would fit and fit nearly perfectly. Later, when walking around Old San Juan the idea of the balustrades came to mind and we had the perfect solution. Our apartment, so perfectly located now also has great light. I think back to my home in London that too was a row house, so common in older cities. We had great light only in the front and could have used LIGHTGLASS then as well. We found the installation quite easy and straightforward. We couldn’t be happier with the end result. It came out better than we could have imagined.”

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We are proud to have been a part of transforming this home, and
we wish the owners a lifetime of health, happiness, and light!