• 19 May 2022

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects Win Prestigious International Award for their use of Daylight in Architecture

Grafton Architects founders Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara have been named the 2022 laureates of The Daylight Award for Architecture. This latest international recognition follows on from their recent 2022 Mies Van der Rohe Award for contemporary architecture.  The Daylight Award for Architecture rewards individuals or a group of architects whose projects and works showcase unique use of and dedication to daylight.

The Daylight Award is presented by the philanthropic foundations, VILLUM FONDEN, VELUS FONDEN AND VELUX STIFTUNG established by Villum Kann Rasmussen.  The Award honours and supports daylight in architecture, for the benefit of human health, well-being and the environment. Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara were presented with the prize in Copenhagen for their mastery of natural light, “which has a relaxed, generous, and calm presence throughout their buildings. The contribution of daylight to enhance quality of life - even to celebrate life - is an intrinsic quality of their work”

Accepting the award, Shelley McNamara said:


“We think it is wonderful that there is an award related to daylight. This award reminds us that light is one of the key materials in architecture. What is amazing about natural light is that is so varying across the world and because you learn each time”.


According to Yvonne Farrell, the role of light in architecture is more than an aesthetic pleasure, but a sustainable source of “extraordinary energy”. 


“What we really try to do is capture the environmental conditions of location, for people to enjoy it. It is a cultural relationship. Our relationship with light starts with looking at the angle of the sun, one of the aspects that we look at very deeply.”

Pictured l-r: Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders, Grafton Architects.
Pictured l-r: Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders, Grafton Architects.

The international jury’s citation read:


“Grafton Architects have mastered the use of daylight throughout their wide and exceptionally varied design production. They use natural light to differentiate and articulate spaces of different importance, functional purpose and experiential atmosphere. Their skill to direct daylight both vertically and horizontally into often thick and layered building volumes is remarkable.  It is clear that daylight is particularly important in Grafton Architects architecture.  It is not an accessory; it is a major constituent element of architecture”.