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The Evolution of Skylights: From Ancient Marvels to Modern Necessities

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June 12, 2024

Skylights, those celestial portals that invite sunlight and starlight into our living spaces, have a rich history that spans centuries. Let’s embark on a journey through time, exploring how these architectural wonders have evolved from simple openings to sophisticated design elements.

Ancient Beginnings: Romans and Vikings

The genesis of skylights traces back to ancient civilizations, where people revered the sun’s influence. The Romans, known for their architectural ingenuity, punctuated their luxurious bathhouses with oculi—circular openings in roofs that served as precursors to modern skylights. These oculi allowed daylight to dance upon the waters and marbles within, creating a magical ambiance.

Viking domiciles also employed simple skylights, known as “ljore”, cutting openings in their roofs to release smoke and let in the sun’s rays. These early marvels set the stage for today’s more sophisticated designs, emphasizing both aesthetic beauty and functionality.

Awaken Skylight
Awaken Skylight Marvin Canada

Middle Ages: From Luxury to Necessity

During the Middle Ages, skylights transitioned from opulent displays to practical necessities. Manuscripts were copied in scriptoriums with natural light filtering through primitive skylights. In domestic architecture, skylights provided crucial light sources in homes where expensive candles or oil lamps were limited to evenings. The dual role of skylights—both aesthetic and practical—became evident during this period.

Renaissance: Illuminating Art and Architecture

The Renaissance brought renewed appreciation for art and science, elevating the design and implementation of skylights. Architects incorporated skylights into prestigious buildings as a result of the clarity and brilliance of natural light. Filippo Brunelleschi, the famous architect, used skylights in the dome of the Florence Cathedral to illuminate ornate frescoes and architecture within. Residential homes also saw the installation of skylights, recognizing their ability to enhance living spaces.

Industrial Revolution: Mass Production and Accessibility

In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution revolutionized skylight production. Advancements in manufacturing processes enabled mass production, reducing costs significantly. Glass production and metal framing techniques proliferated, making skylights accessible to a broader socio-economic class. They became integral to industrial buildings and urban homes, bridging the gap between luxury and practicality.

20th Century and Beyond: Innovation and Energy Efficiency

In the 20th century, skylights continued to evolve. Open-concept skylights emerged in France during the 1700s and 1800s. As glass technology advanced, skylights began to resemble their modern counterparts. Today, skylights offer superior energy efficiency and resilience through innovative design and advanced materials. They provide natural light, ventilation, and a connection to the outdoors, enhancing our well-being and the aesthetics of our living spaces.


Marvin experts are experienced in working with architects, builders and homeowners to ensure your vision becomes a reality.

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The Awaken™ Skylight: A Modern Marvel

Now, let’s fast-forward to the present day. Enter the Marvin Canada Awaken™ Skylight—the pinnacle of contemporary skylight design. What sets it apart?

Tunable Lighting for Well-Being

The Awaken™ Skylight is the first and only skylight with supplemental, programmable lighting. Its dimmable LED lights can be adjusted to the ideal colour temperature of natural light, supporting your circadian rhythm. Whether you’re waking up or winding down, the skylight provides the right light at the right time, making you feel more at ease at home.

Ventilation for Fresh Air

Awaken™ opens on all four sides, allowing fresh air to flood your space faster than traditional hinged units. Its smart sensors automatically shut down the skylight if rain is detected, ensuring your home stays dry. Plus, indoor air quality sensors alert you to changes in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Take a deep breath and revel in the energizing sensation of a home filled with fresh air.

Immersive Views and Hidden Perimeter Screen

Views of the outside world provide a calming sense of place. Awaken™ integrates a hidden perimeter screen that keeps insects and debris out without obscuring your view. Its long-lasting fibreglass structure features narrow sightlines, maximizing your space for sky views. Imagine gazing up at the stars or watching the clouds drift by from the comfort of your home.

Smart Home Integration

Awaken™ seamlessly integrates with your smart home systems. Operate lighting, venting, and shades using a wall switch, app, or voice commands through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Samsung SmartThings. It’s convenience at your fingertips, enhancing your daily life.


In summary, the Awaken™ Skylight combines the timeless allure of skylights with cutting-edge technology, creating a harmonious blend of form and function. Whether you’re designing a serene bedroom retreat, an artist’s studio, a culinary haven, or a cozy reading nook, the Awaken™ Skylight invites you to discover the beauty above and transform your living space into a haven of light, fresh air, and well-being.

Tell Us About Your Project

Our Marvin Canada dealers in your area are ready and willing to offer you a complimentary consultation to discuss your unique requirements and furnish you with a comprehensive estimate for your upcoming project. To take advantage of this service, all you need to do is fill out the form on our website, and we will promptly link you up with the nearest dealer.



Marvin experts are experienced in working with architects, builders and homeowners to ensure your vision becomes a reality.

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