Making your home great: All things WEST

This is Episode 5 of Season 1.

This episode is the last of our four orientations. Over the last 3 episodes, we’ve talked about north, east, and south sunlight and orientations.

In this episode, we’ll talk about all things WEST.

This will help you get it right if you’re seeking ways to make your home feel great, and also if you have you have a west-facing home.

So what do you need to be aware of with western sunlight?

This can be the most challenging orientation to deal with. West is the direction our sun sets in, and even in the cooler months, it can still be a harsh quality of light. Yet, there are still ways we can create homes to manage it, and respond to it.

Let’s dive deeply into:

  • What western sunlight is like
  • What’s not great about western sunlight
  • How we need to shade and shelter from western sunlight

You’ll understand in detail:

  • What rooms need to be facing west
  • What rooms don’t need to be facing west
  • 5 tools you can use to protect your home from western sun

And if you have a west-facing home, you’ll learn:

  • What your priorities should be if you’re designing a home for a west-facing orientation
  • What can go wrong in designing for western sunlight
  • How to use the strategies to add design value for free
  • What else you need to know about designing for a west-facing home

There’s a lot of great information crammed into this podcast … you may want to take notes! Listen to the podcast now.

And scroll down to see images to inspire and inform you when designing for all things west.


This diagram shows how much the position of the setting sun changes between its most southerly position (on the Summer Solstice) to its most northern on (on the Winter Solstice). On the equinox, it sets due west.

The red line shows where the Summer Solstice sunset is shining at the home. The blue line shows where the Winter Solstice sunset is shining at the home. The dashed orange line shows the Equinox sunset. The yellow arrow shows the extent or range between the most extreme positions of the setting sun.

Here’s 5 design tools for your project that will help you shield your home from western sunlight …

Design tool 1: Use blinkers


This home in Kingscliffe faces north to rear. The angled blades on the southern elevation (the ones you can see on the upper floor here) help screen that room from harsh afternoon Summer sun (whilst maintaining a view to the south-east).

Design tool 2: Use external screens and blinds

This coastal home at Kingscliffe uses fixed screens over west-facing windows. Angled blades manage western sun whilst providing privacy and a view out.

Design tool 3: Use deciduous planting



This home in Ballarat makes the most of a “Golden Rain” tree. It shades the glass-lined interiors in Summer, and as leaves drop in the cooler months, Winter sun can come streaming through. The colour change also creates a visual interest for the home through the seasons. By Moloney Architects. [Image Source]

Design tool 4: Use special glass


These riverfront homes at Waterline, Bulimba (designed by Amelia Lee – me – whilst at Mirvac Design Queensland) face west to the river. We utilised laminated solar performance glass in all west-facing windows and skylights. Motorised blinds by Vental also protect the west-facing glazing. Like a super-sized external venetian blind, they drop over the glass, and blades can be rotated to control sunshading.

Design tool 5: Use deep reveals


This window seat provides a beautifully deep reveal around this opening and shades it from harsh western sun. Windows open within it, and you can see how gorgeous this space would feel to sit in. By Make Architecture. [Image Source]

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  • February 14, 2017, 6:43 pm  Reply

    Hi Amelia, this series was great! I knew the basics about orientation but the ‘why’ and different shading options seem to often be missing from articles about solar passive design. I know you did a blog post about windows a while back but I’d also be interested to hear your take on what size windows should be in proportion to a room (if that’s a thing?) and how to create drama with small windows

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