How to bring sunshine to a shady townhouse? Stéphane’s testimony in Metz

A year ago, Stéphane acquired a historic house in the center of Metz. Ideally located and endowed with the charm of the old, the house seduced Stéphane and his family. Despite its many qualities, the house has one drawback. Most of the rooms face north, onto a private interior courtyard. Hence the question: “How can you bring sunshine to a shady townhouse ?” In this article discover Stéphane’s experience and the solutions implemented.

Project sheet :

  • Project: sunning a shady townhouse
  • Location : Metz (France)
  • Customer : Stéphane
  • Espaciel model installed : Solar-Patio reflector


Context of the situation

Nestled in the heart of the city, Stéphane’s house has many assets. At the back of the house, the terrace offers a private exit very appreciable when one lives in town. Most of the rooms overlook the back of the house. This creates the feeling of being truly at home, protected from the hustle and bustle of the city center.

The Moselle River and behind it the center of Metz with many shaded townhouses
Light on the Moselle river in the city center of Metz – Photo Marie-Lou Wechsler

However, the northern exposure deprives the house and the terrace of sunlight. The high party walls that delimit the plot further accentuate the lack of natural light. Despite all the advantages of the city center, this situation means that the house is in the shade. This can quickly become a problem in a region with a harsh climate, as is the case in northeastern France.

Stéphane then asks himself the following question: “How can I bring sunlight to my shaded townhouse ?”

Search for a solution

When Stéphane bought the house, he planned a series of improvements and embellishments. He carried them out step by step. The windows were renovated and repainted in white to better capture the daylight. The facade was repainted, roof windows were renovated and fitted with insulating shutters. The gas boiler has been revised and equipped with an intelligent thermostat, the radiators have been fitted with thermostatic valves.

The lack of natural light is still a problem. It is especially the absence of sunlight due to the northern exposure that poses a problem. Stéphane found Espaciel while searching for solutions on the Internet. He discovered in particular the Patio-Solaire reflector, which seemed to him to be the right solution for providing sunlight to his shaded townhouse.

This reflector with a curved surface is the latest addition to the Espaciel range. The presentation of the product on the Espaciel website and the examples of installation on the company’s blog allow Stéphane to specify his project. He decides to invest in two Patio-Solar Reflectors to bring the sun into his shady townhouse.

To the north of the courtyard is a party wall that faces south. The top of the wall is sunny all day. This is the strategic point Stéphane chose to place the two Solar Patio Reflectors.

Two Solar Patio Reflectors receive the sun on a wall in front of a shaded townhouse
Placed in the sun and in height the Solar Patio Reflectors illuminate the house located in front – Photo by Stéphane


Implementation of the solution

The roof of the house located at the North of the plot is not accessible from Stéphane’s house. And the top of the wall is 8 m high! The question of access for the installation and maintenance of the reflectors was raised at the beginning of the project. A rope access technician friend of Stéphane’s agreed to carry out the installation with him. He brought a large roofer’s ladder, a harness, a mountaineer’s rope and safety rings to screw into the wall. Bringing sunshine to a shaded townhouse requires some effort and organization.

For the two companions, the work takes on the appearance of a mountain sport. The work combines two different access techniques. The ladder to climb to the height of the intervention. This is the Via Ferrata side. The rings to be screwed, the rope and the harness to secure the work at height. This is the climbing side. During a classic intervention of building climber, the rope access technician is sitting in his harness, himself suspended from a rope. Stéphane and his friend carry out the intervention on a ladder. The harness simply ensures a passive safety.

Intervening with two people is another aspect of passive safety. It is not mandatory. Many rope access technicians work alone. But I don’t find it safe. Personally, I would not like to be alone on a construction site… hanging on the end of a rope. The way Stéphane and his friend work is also the way Espaciel works with its installation partners. The service of installation of Solar Patio Reflectors has a value equivalent to the price of the Reflectors themselves. It is a budget that is part of the solution, like the roofing budget when installing a roof window. Not everyone has a rope accessory friend like Stéphane!

A mountaineer climbs a sunny vertical wall, like the one facing a house in the north in the city center
There are no mountains in Metz, but the height access to fix the Patio Reflectors may require a mountaineer type access to the building – Photo Patrick Hendry

Operation of the Solar Patio Reflector

The Solar Patio Reflector acts like a sunburst. Its curved surface creates a ribbon of light that illuminates everything in its path. The ribbon of light is the width of the reflector, i.e. 80 cm. In the field of textile we would speak of a luminous ribbon of 80 cm width.

Solar projections form ribbons of light that illuminate the courtyard and the townhouse in the shade
The Solar-Patient Reflectors project the sun in the form of long ribbons of light – Photo Stéphane W.

The solar ribbon runs lengthwise from the reflector to the house. No more shady townhouses, now it’s time for the sun. The luminous ribbon starts at the foot of the reflector. It goes down the wall like a hanging. It then crosses the interior courtyard like a carpet. And finally goes up on the back of the house like a calico.

Patio-Solar Reflectors illuminate the shaded terrace in a townhouse
The two Patio Reflectors provide sunshine to the terrace below and the townhouse in front – Photo Stéphane W.

The solar ribbon illuminates a large surface while the surface of the reflector is only 50 x 80 cm. The transmitted light is attenuated compared to the direct sun. This makes it even more pleasant. The Patio Reflector provides the desired solar effect in terms of lighting. Without the aggressive side of the direct sun which can be dazzling.

The solar projection moves with the sun’s path in the sky. The light ribbon rotates throughout the day. That’s why it’s a good idea to place several Patio Reflectors side by side to make the solar effect last longer. With several Patio Reflectors, the same point in the house is lit successively by each Reflector. If there are enough of them and they are close together, the Patio Reflectors provide continuous sunlight for many hours.

Results obtained

Stéphane is positively surprised by the effect of his Solar Patio Reflectors. Exposed to the South, the Patio Reflectors receive direct sunlight all day long when the weather is nice. They bring in the natural light that is so vibrant from the sun. Several rooms in Stéphane’s house benefit from it. He has fully realized his goal of bringing sunshine to his shaded townhouse.

Solar patio reflector brings sunshine to the exterior and interior of the townhouse
A living room of the house, bathed by the sun reflected by the Solar-Patient Reflectors – Photo Stéphane W.

The goal was reached with a solution that could be implemented without major work. According to Stéphane, the most delicate part is to adjust the inclination and the curve of the reflector to obtain the desired effect. Before this adjustment step, the solar effect was limited. During the adjustments, Stéphane saw a long solar ribbon appearing, illuminating both the terrace and the house. He then thinks that he has the right curve and the right inclination. With his friend they finalize the adjustment by giving the last adjustments and by carrying out the tightening of the elements of fixing. This is the final step to bring the sun to the townhouse which was in the shade until then.

The light provided by the Patio Reflectors is both solar and soft. Intense, it stands out from the sky light already present in the courtyard. Softened by the reflector’s curvature, its diffusion over a whole ribbon of light is not intrusive like direct sunlight. The trees of the inner courtyard further soften its effect. The wind in the leaves of the trees animates its effects and gives it an even more lively side.

With the Reflectors, the sun comes down through the trees of the terrace which was in the shade of the other houses in the city center
Filtered by the garden vegetation, the sun appears on the terrace as a moiré projection – Photo Stéphane W.

Natural light is an irreplaceable living material. Satisfied with his investment, Stéphane plans to complete the installation soon with two additional Solar Patio Reflectors. This innovative device makes it possible to transform a shaded townhouse by bringing it the much sought-after sun.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply