International VELUX Award 2020: Global winners announced

The two winning projects of the 2020 International VELUX Award are from architecture schools in Denmark and Poland.

The VELUX Group is proud to announce that the projects Solar Desalination Skylight by Henry Glogau and The Theatre of Light by Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski, and Paweł Białas are the global winners of the International VELUX Award 2020 for Students of Architecture.

A jury of internationally acclaimed architects announced the two global winners following online presentations by 10 regional winners at a live-stream event on June 23. Those 10 were chosen from 579 daylight projects, submitted by students from 250 schools of architecture in 60 countries. The jury noted the projects’ exceptionally strong emphasis on addressing the complex environmental, socio-cultural, and geopolitical challenges of our time.

Since the regional winners of last year’s competition were announced in July 2020, they have been awaiting the chance to present their projects to the jury in the final round of the competition, which was scheduled to take place at The World Architecture Festival. Unfortunately, that festival was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the jury saw online presentations from all 10 winners and chose the following projects as the global winners.

Global winner category Daylight in Buildings: Solar Desalination Skylight

Student: Henry Glogau

School: Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Teacher: David Garcia

Country: Denmark

Region: Western Europe

Global winner - project description: Solar Desalination Skylight

This project works with a holistic approach to providing Chile’s informal coastal settlements with water, light, and energy. The prototype utilises Chile’s abundance of solar energy and seawater to create a solar desalination skylight, which emits natural diffused light to produce drinking water and utilise leftover salt brine for energy creation.

Resource access is a central focus in designing this architectural lighting prototype. These communities have unlimited access to sunlight and seawater. The diffused internal light creates a soft ambience for the living space and the collected desalinated water adds a morphing dappled effect that changes the mood throughout the day. The design is inspired by biomimetic surfaces, emulating the leaf venation networks and micro grooves, thereby improving the channelling of condensed water to increase performance.


The jury was impressed by the proposed solution to an important societal issue. The project offers a technical solution that seems very real and tangible and it answers an increasing global problem. This project is exemplary in the way it is presented with appealing graphics and very clear text.

The jury members were overall very impressed by the projects on many levels and the final decision was not an easy one. Still, the project Solar Desalination Skylight stood out. The author presented an impressive way of thinking through the design and the technology, showing sensitivity to the global problem that we all know exists and also how his solution can improve the quality of life on earth,
says Nóra Demeter, chair of the jury.

Global winner category Daylight Investigations: The Theatre of Light

Students: Julia Giżewska, Dominik Kowalski, and Paweł Białas

School: Silesian University of Techonology

Teacher: Jerzy Wojewódka

Country: Poland

Region: Eastern Europe & the Middle East

Global winner - project description: The Theatre of Light

The main goal of the project is to raise awareness of artificial light pollution. Artificial light pollution is a huge problem in the modern world. We turn night into a day with technology; our whole diurnal cycle is disturbed as a result. Humans, animals, and plants are deprived of a natural need to exist in darkness when the sun is not in the sky.

The project location, Izera Dark Sky Park in Poland, features one of the last darkest places in Europe. The idea is to create over a kilometre of land art that gives people the opportunity to observe a slice of the sky as in a theatre – a theatre of light. The light art is shaped as a circle - a shape often used in planetariums – and symbolises cyclicality, the earth, sky, and eternal connection.

The jury found that the project sensitively investigated ‘a dialogue’ between natural light and nature and addressed today’s problem of not experiencing the dark night sky. The project is a convincing example that you do not need to make `big architecture´ to make a clear architectural statement. It is an elegant project and it is coherent in its graphics and text.

This project informed us about the value of our proximity to nature, which resonated strongly with us
says Martin Pors Jepsen, member of the jury.

About the VELUX Group

For more than 80 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world; making the most of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Our product programme includes roof windows and modular skylights, decorative blinds, sun screening products and roller shutters, as well as installation and smart home solutions. These products help to ensure a healthy and sustainable indoor climate, for work and learning, for play and pleasure. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in more than 36 countries and around 11,000 employees worldwide. The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by non-profit, charitable foundations (THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS) and family. In 2022, the VELUX Group had total revenue of EUR 2.99 billion, VKR Holding had total revenue of EUR 4.29 billion, and THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS donated EUR 181 million in charitable grants.

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