Posted by Dylan Vander Velde on November 12, 2019

Daylight for a Horse of a Different Color

Case Studies Commercial Featured Applications

Architecture/Design: Blackburn Architects
General Contractor:: Mike Keim
Roofing Contractor:: Mike McHugh
Skylight Installer: Epic Windows & Doors
Location: Utah
Project Type: House Barn and Arena
Product: VMS Ridgelight and Longlight configurations


Winter Farms is a private horse farm in Utah, located in a picturesque valley with a meandering river surrounded by foothills and an idyllic view of mountains. The barn and arena were designed to create healthy environments for both horses and their handlers by providing ample natural light and ventilation from VELUX Modular Skylight (VMS) systems.


Ventilation is important in horse barns and arenas to protect the health of the horses and even the handlers working with them. Supplying fresh air to rid the structures of odor, moisture and bacteria, in addition to regulating the indoor climate, is crucial to horse health. The owners were in need of a proper ventilating skylight system that was both cost-effective and could be installed quickly and easily.

Solution: VELUX Modular Skylights (VMS)

The 21,000-square-foot arena includes 130 standard size VMS units in the Longlight configuration, and the 7,500-square-foot barn has 70 standard and custom VMS units in the Ridgelight configuration. Using VMS helped the project stay on-time and on-budget because it eliminates the need for worksite caulking, puttying, welding, soldering or glass cutting, processes that can be weather dependent.

Roof image of VELUX Modular Skylight Solution


Roof image of VELUX Modular Skylight Solution
The arena is long and wide, so getting natural light into the middle was a challenge. The VMS Longlight fills the middle of the space with daylight and fresh air, giving horses and their riders a pleasant indoor space to practice dressage and jumping. The skylights are anchored at the ridge onto an I-beam structure at a 7.4-degree roof slope with 20 venting skylights that open to provide air flow.

The barn has 70 standard and custom size skylight modules, in the Ridgelight configuration, 14 of which are venting. This configuration is made of two symmetrical rows of self-supporting skylights that create a light and open interior.

Interior image of VELUX Modular Skylight Solution

Both skylight systems include a high wind velocity and rain sensor package that will close the skylights if it senses climatic weather change, and the system has HVAC system integration capabilities for automatic climate control. The glass is tempered over laminated with an argon gas infill with LoE3 safety glazing for added fall protection.

“It’s a fully controllable system for not only bringing in daylight where they don’t need to use any power whatsoever to light the building, but also for ventilation,” said Tom Nafus, VELUX sales representative.

Looking up at the blue sky through VELUX Modular Skylight Solution

The Design Process

VELUX was involved early in the design process and worked with both the architect and general contractor on configurations.

The skylights originally specified for the project were not VELUX, but the general contractor, Michael Keim, had plenty of experience with the brand. The original design for skylights called for an on-site glazed skylight, which takes longer to install. The prefabricated VMS system features a plug and play installation method that doesn’t require on-site fabrication.

After learning more about VMS, Keim updated the barn’s design, removing some unnecessary structural elements to expose the Ridgelight on the interior.

“Standing in the barn and seeing sunlight on the natural wood interior is just beautiful,” Keim said.

Barn installation took a week, requiring four people, a scissor lift inside and forklift outside. The arena installation took slightly longer due simply to the fact that there were more units.

“It went very fast, and it went very clean,” Nafus said.

Result: Happy, Healthy Horses

Both the arena and barn were transformed into functional yet strikingly beautiful structures that also provide healthy living and exercise spaces for the horses.

“The skylights bring out the true natural color of the wood,” Nafus said. “The wood is a natural high gloss look throughout the whole structure. It’s just an incredible building.”

Horse and rider underneath VELUX Modular Skylights