Inspired by Natural Light in Architecture


Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre’s Danpalon Polycarbonate Awes

If you have no light, you have no architecture – Shaun Carter, Architect(*1)


If you are looking for a consistent element in Shaun Carter’s work, it is the exploration of natural light in architecture.

Shaun Carter, architect and founding architect of the architectural firm, Carter Williamson draws inspiration from(*1):

  • Light;
  • People;
  • The greats of architecture;
  • Contemporary architecture, and;
  • The serenity found in everyday moments and experiences.


Carter’s skilled application of natural light is exemplified in the Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre’s Danpalon® polycarbonate vertical panels. The neighbourhood centre was designed around daylight. Light was used as an architectural material for the community building.



Why Design with Natural Light in Architecture?

Without lightness and shadows, architecture lacks form and depth(*2). Meaningful architecture calls for light, darkness and texture. Light should be considered as an essential architectural material in all designs(*3).

A better life in the built environment includes light and darkness(*2).


Natural Light in Architecture Awes

The holistic application of daylighting in design:

  • Inspires creativity and emotion during design and for those using the built space.
  • Evokes curiosity and fascination.

Natural light is not stagnant. It is always changing, getting lighter and darker, moving with the time of day and the movement of the clouds.


Daylight Architecture is the Foundation for Connection

Light connects and creates a flow between the features of the building that surrounds us. It connects:

  • Interiors with the outside world. It creates a flow between spaces.
  • People and communities. Where there are light and warmth, people gather and share.


Architecture Provides a Platform for Connection:
  • Connection to the community and with each other.
  • It is the link to the local region and the global community.

The built environment is more than a practical solution to urbanisation and development. Meaningful architecture is inspired and creative. It gives purpose to a place, and it connects individuals and groups.


Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre

“Architecture is the creation of human imagination” – Shaun Carter, Architect(*1)

Diffused light radiates into the Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre. The curved roof flows through the parkland as if the park was built around the centre. The softly diffused light gives the user a sense of comfort, safety and serenity.

A lantern effect takes hold of the building after dusk. Light glows from within the building at night as it travels out of the polycarbonate that follows the shape of the curved roof.

For Carter(*1), architecture represents our values and thoughts. The Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre was designed to seamlessly integrate into its natural surroundings. Located in Sydney’s west, on Darug Country, the building serves a culturally diverse and inclusive community(*4).


What Danpal Product Was Used for the Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre?

The flowing panels you see installed above the brickwork and which follow the roof are(*5):

  • Danpalon® Seamless Facades.
  • 16mm thickness.
  • Colour used: Clear.


Daylight Applications for Framing and Featuring Other Elements

Danpalon® panels frame building features and the people in the space. Daylighting design is about using light and dark to highlight key features(*3). Light applications should:

  • Provide warmth.
  • Highlight design features.
  • Improve user comfort.
  • Reduce artificial lighting needs.


According to Mende(*3), the light fixture (or panel) doesn’t have to be the feature. Daylight applications can be the elements that showcase and bolster other features. Depending on the design intention, Danpalon® panels can be an eye-catching feature. They can flow with the shape of the building. They can complement the design rather than being the focal point. Or, they can be a bit of both.


The Star is Light and What is Important is How we Introduce Light into Buildings
  • Natural light in architecture is beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.
  • It is practical, purposeful and energy-saving.
  • It inspires and evokes creativity.



Project Credits

Designed by Shaun Carter of Carter Williamson Architects

Built by Westbury Constructions

Photographed by Brett Boardman



*1. Danpal Australia. Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre. YouTube; 2020.

*2. Heide RV. Why Light Needs Darkness. Amsterdam: TEDx; 2010.

*3. Mende K, Associates KMLP, Inc LPA. Designing With Light and Shadow: Images Publishing; 2000.

*4. Carter Williamson Architects. Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre Sydney: 2020.

*5. Danpal Australia. Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre Sydney

View the Woodcroft Neighbourhood Centre Project Gallery

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