How to brighten up a loft? Testimony of Nadia and Sylvain in Clamart

How do you brighten up an industrial loft from the 1900s? This is the challenge that Nadia and Sylvain took up during the renovation of an old carpentry in Clamart in France.

Several solar reflectors can be used to brighten up a dark loft
Espaciel Reflectors bring the sun down into the courtyard to brighten the loft – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain

Project sheet :

  • Owner: Nadia and Sylvain
  • Type of housing : former workshop transformed into a loft
  • City : Clamart (92) in France
  • Openings : Windows
  • Room to light : Living room
  • Espaciel model installed : Solar patio reflector and Wall reflector
  • Project partner : Varrot & Co Company


Background to the situation

Nadia and Sylvain fell in love with a former carpentry workshop from the 1900s. On the street side, the entrance is surmounted by a small brick building. At the rear, the workshop occupied the entire plot of land, with a height equivalent to two floors. It is a metal frame hall typical of the second industrial revolution. Supplemented by a modern structure, several wooden and riveted iron trusses are preserved. They are left exposed during the renovation.

Originally, the structure of the workshop is dark
The frame of the workshop before its transformation into a loft – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain
The roof structure is now bathed in light thanks to Espaciel and Varrot & Co
The frame of the workshop after its transformation into a loft – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain

The former workshop offers the right space to create a vast loft. It is designed to accommodate the couple, the children… and Sylvain’s collection of motorbikes. All that remains is to find a way to bring in the sun. How do you bring sunshine into a loft nestled in a former workshop?

Espaciel reflectors project large ribbons of sunlight into the courtyard
To brighten up the loft, the sun’s rays bounce first off the Patio Reflectors and then off the Wall Reflectors – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain

Nadia and Sylvain decided to create an outdoor space at the back of the plot. Located at a good distance from the residential building, this location offers several advantages. It provides privacy and is protected from the view of the neighbourhood. A source of light, it receives sunshine all day long. Nadia and Sylvain are looking for a solution to sunlight the loft from this strategic location.

Espaciel reflectors are placed around the inner courtyard to provide sunlight to the loft
The Patio Solaire reflectors are arranged in two cardinal directions, facing south to operate in the middle of the day and facing west to light up the afternoon – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain

The idea of an inner courtyard in the nave of the studio is reminiscent of the square courtyard architecture of Roman houses. This organisation around an inner courtyard ensures the link with the natural elements: water (rain), air (wind), fire (sun) and earth (soil).

A colourful bird on a tree branch symbolises contact with nature
The inner courtyard is the privileged point of contact with the natural elements. In the city, it allows you to reconnect with nature – Photo by Vincent Van Zalinge


Searching for a solution

The difficulty in fitting out this loft is that there are no openings on the sides. Inserted in the very dense urban fabric of the Parisian suburbs, the former industrial workshop occupies the entire wall-to-wall space. It can only be lit through the roof. During the renovation, the creation of living areas cut off access to natural light on the ground floor. How can a loft be lit with these architectural constraints?

The opening of the roof and the addition of an interior courtyard play an essential role in bringing daylight into the loft. This is particularly true on the ground floor, which houses the main living areas: living room, kitchen, garage and entrance. To let in natural light, Nadia and Sylvain opted for translucent partitions on the ground floor.

Nadia and Sylvain are fans of the South. What they like is Alès, the capital of the Cévennes. They both need the sun. In the Paris region it is only present one day out of six on average. When it is there, they want to catch all its rays to fill the loft with its beautiful light.

In the heart of the loft, the living room is lit up by Espaciel reflectors
Espaciel reflectors reflect the sun in the heart of the loft, in the living room on the ground floor – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain


Solution implemented

Nadia and Sylvain are building contractors. Varrot & Co, their company is specialised in energy saving work, such as heat pumps. They install and maintain many green technologies for their customers. It is a satisfaction for them to carry out this type of equipment for their own home, starting with the efficient insulation of the loft’s roof… and its natural sunlight.

The idea of bringing more sunshine into the loft is a continuation of this professional commitment. They contacted Espaciel to look for a solution. The innovative nature of the Reflectors did not stop them. On the contrary, they were delighted to be able to use an ecological innovation.

Solar Patio Reflectors and Wall Reflectors next to the heat pump motor in the courtyard
The Espaciel reflectors are part of the green technologies that equip the loft, such as high-performance insulation and a heat pump – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain

The Solar Patio Reflector is the latest addition to the Espaciel range. Its curved surface unwinds the sun. It transforms its rays into luminous ribbons that illuminate everything in its path. It is an ideal solution for bringing sunshine to the interior courtyard, the terrace and adjoining areas.

To bring the sun into the heart of the living areas and to brighten up the loft, Nadia and Sylvain complement the Solar Patio Reflectors with Wall Reflectors. The former pushes the sun towards the latter, which in turn pushes the sun into the living room and kitchen. This play of reflections using primary and secondary reflectors allows the loft to be bathed in sunlight 8m below roof level and 12m from the inner courtyard.

The sun shines through the main room to the entrance of the loft
The main room is bathed in sunlight until the entrance to the loft on the street side, 12 m from the inner courtyard – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain


Results obtained

The effect of the Solar Patio Reflectors in the courtyard is spectacular. The sun is projected onto the ground and the walls. Large ribbons of sunlight cover the entire space with natural light.

The solar projection of the Espaciel reflectors is clearly visible in the courtyard
Curved reflectors produce an impressive solar effect in the courtyard – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain

The lighting solution implemented uses a double reflection of the sun’s rays.

At a height of 8 m at roof level, the Curved Reflectors collect the sun and direct it downwards.

At 2m from the ground, the Wall Reflectors take over and project the light deep into the living area.

On cloudy days, the Wall Reflectors push the daylight towards the window. Thus they also improve the natural lighting of the ground floor when there is no sun.

Wall mirrors bring sunshine to the loft in the heart of the living room
Inside the loft the brightness is amplified by the sun rays projected from the inner courtyard – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain

For Espaciel, Nadia and Sylvain’s project was a great challenge. They asked for advice on the choice of products and their installation. A lighting study was necessary to discuss and validate the placement of the products as well as the adapted fixing solutions.

As Nadia and Sylvain are contractors, the work was carried out with professionalism. The installation at height was facilitated by the presence of scaffolding in the inner courtyard during the work.

The sun reflected by the curved mirrors dresses the floor and walls of the inner courtyard in light
Solar projections in the inner courtyard of the loft – Photo by Nadia and Sylvain

This project fully exploits the potential of light redirection techniques. The sunshine in Nadia and Sylvain’s loft is a project that fully exploits the solutions developed by Espaciel. Thank you to Nadia and Sylvain for this fine demonstration of the use of daylighting reflectors for construction, fitting out and renovation in the home.

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