As a matter of fact, planning for sunlight, placing the buildings as close together as is possible but guaranteeing sunlight, results in an economy of land use - provided it is done with scientific accuracy. If you try shortcut rule of thumb methods, you will find that they take more land. The question of whether or not the labor involved in any given case is a saving, is determined by the cost of the land.
Different spacings of buildings result from different street orientations; and lot layouts must be very different from those to which we are accustomed. Sunlight planning will result in shallower lots with wider frontages. It necessitates a reconstruction of our ideas as to what constitutes a proper lot-unit, but the fact remains that it is possible to provide sunlight penetration in houses. At the time these studies were made, none of the glasses transmitting ultra-violet rays was on the market. To-day there are several.
Further studies were made with respect to the possibility of substituting skylight for direct sunlight or sunshine. Records of the Weather Bureau show that there is a great deal of ultra-violet intensity in skylight - more when the sun is low in the horizon - and it was established that for windows facing north, the window area should be increased about 50 per cent. Thus, for example, if we take as a standard a window 3 feet wide by 4 1/2 feet high, we must increase to 4 1/2 feet square the size of the window facing the north, in order to assure to it a skylight intensity over the whole day equivalent in ultra-violet rays to the standard window that gets direct sunshine.
This subject has aroused so much interest among planning boards in the New York Region that two communities in recent months have determined to amend their zoning ordinances so as to guarantee that the window area of every room shall equal 15 per cent of the floor area it serves. One community is going so far as to require, for every window in a business building, factory or residence, an unobstructed angle of light of 45 degrees from the zenith to the highest obstructing wall.
That, we feel, is progress.
The housing problem may be divided into two parts: first, the securing of proper conditions of land development, control of surroundings, distribution of residential growth; second, the physical house. The latter is often considered the whole problem. The outstanding defects in houses are: (1) lack of light, (2) lack of ventilation, (3) lack of safety in case of fire, (4) poor planning and construction, and (5) high costs. Poor methods of subdividing property have provided lots too narrow and too deep for satisfactory house planning and for proper light and ventilation. Slums have developed in small sections of many large cities.
The poorest people never live in new houses. For this reason there should be sufficient numbers of new houses built annually in order to furnish space to allow for the demolishing of old houses unfit for habitation. The task is to see that houses built for more prosperous families are well planned and well constructed in order that they will, when old, be reasonably satisfactory for those who must occupy them. By setting a standard below which no dwelling may be erected the whole standard of housing gradually becomes higher. In every state of society there are persons unable to pay an economic rent for healthful housing accommodations. This is not a housing problem and should be remedied by charity and prevented by constructive social policy. When public aid is essential it should be given as a last resource and in a form that will assist rather than impede private enterprise. So long as old houses are required to be healthful there is no reason for disregarding economic conditions by forcing the erection of new ones for those who cannot afford them. Public authorities are responsible for demanding that old houses be kept in good habitable condition. When state or municipal aid is given it takes one of four forms: (1) granting loans at low rates of interest to individuals, public-utility societies, or municipalities; (2) granting outright subsidies to individuals or to others for the construction of houses having a certain standard; (3) direct state action providing houses for sale or rent; (4) exempting houses of a specified cost and character from taxation for a limited time.
Houses may contribute to ill health through (1) improper location of building on wet or poorly drained land, (2) fire risk, (3) unsafe and defective structures, (4) defective orientation, (5) excessive height of neighboring buildings which shut off light and air, (6) overcrowding in the same building, (7) land-overcrowding, (8) room congestion, (9) inadequate plumbing, (10) lack of or improper ventilation, (11) poor lighting, (12) poor and inadequate equipment, (13) unhealthful location in an undesirable residential district. There appears to be a direct relationship between infant mortality rates and congestion and infant mortality rates and poor ventilation.
In analyzing health and housing factors racial resistance should be considered. A comparative study of figures of seventy-one cities showed a falling mortality rate with an increasing sewer and water-pipe mileage; also a falling mortality rate with an increasing acreage of streets and parks. The conclusion is that the distances separating buildings affect the mortality rate. The great preponderance of medical testimony shows the positive values of sunlight. Sixty-eight degrees or less is proper for room ventilation. Infectious diseases increase as the amount of sunshine decreases. From all evidence gathered the value of light and sunlight is of great importance. Studies show that it is possible to obtain a half-hour of noon sunlight or its equivalent in sunlight intensity in every room of every dwelling 25 feet square without using more land than is customary in usual subdivisions with lots 40 by 100 feet. Sunlight planning will result in shallower lots with wider frontages. Studies also show ultra-violet light in skylight. This should also affect window areas.
Aronovici, Carol. Housing and the Housing Problem. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1920. Bedford, Scott E. W. Readings in Urban Sociology. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1927.
The housing problem - causes and results of bad housing conditions, including overcrowding in relation to health (pp. 461-87).
Ford, James. "Good Housing for Families of Modest Means." Scientific Monthly, XXVIII (April, 1929), 322-27.
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Heydecker, Wayne D., and Goodrich, Ernest B. "Sunlight and Daylight for Urban Areas," Regional Survey of New York and Its Environs, Vol. VII: Neighborhood and Community Planning. New York: Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs, 1929. Pp. 141-209.
National Housing Association (105 E. Twenty-second St., New York City). Housing (quarterly).
Veiller, Lawrence. The Housing Problem in the United States. Pub. 61. New York: National Housing Association, 1930. Pp. 31.
_______Housing Reform. New York: Charities Publication Committee, 1910.
Russell Sage Foundation publication.
Wood, Arthur Evans. Community Problems. New York: Century Co., 1928. General housing problems (pp. 33-47).
Wood, Edith Elmer. The Housing of the Unskilled Wage Earner. New York: Macmillan Co., 1919. Housing conditions (pp. 29-59).
---------. "How To Get Better Houses." Journal of Home Economics, XVI (January-February, 1924), 4-9, 65-71.