In architecture, a lightwell,[NB 1] sky-well,[NB 2] or air shaft is an unroofed external space provided within the volume of a large building to allow light and air to reach what would otherwise be a dark or unventilated area. Lightwells may be lined with glazed bricks to increase the reflection of sunlight within the space.

Kamppi Center, Helsinki, 2006. The lightwell helps reduce overall energy demands.

Lightwells serve to reduce the necessity for electric lighting, add a central space within the building, and provide an internal open space for windows to give an illusion of having a view outside.

Area or areawayEdit

A subterranean lightwell by any frontage of a building for light to a basement is also called an area (or areaway in North American usage).

Ancient historyEdit

The lightwell was used in ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians[1] and at the Palace of Knossos on Minoan Crete.[2] There are also instances of lightwell use by the Romans, the impluvium and compluvium shaft.[3] In traditional Chinese architecture, the 天井 sky well also exist.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ light well, light-well
  2. ^ skywell, sky well


  1. ^ Bagnall, Roger S; Frier, Bruce W (2006). The demography of Roman Egypt. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-46123-8. OCLC 28927049.
  2. ^ Hogan, C Michael (2008-04-14). "Knossos". The Modern Antiquarian. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
  3. ^ Higginbotham, James Arnold (1997). Piscinae: Artificial Fishponds in Roman Italy. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-2329-3. OCLC 35172558.