Achieving the right amount of daylight

There are many factors to be considered when designing lighting solutions, including glazing transmittance, wall thickness, external obstructions and depth of space.

However, when it comes to learning environments, there are a number of additional factors that also need to be taken into account – including reflection from whiteboards, projectors lighting, desk layouts and good reading conditions – combing to create a unique challenge when dealing with glare, lighting contrasts, direct sunlight and the use of blinds.


4 ways to improve daylight conditions in classrooms
  1. Ensure daylight is the superior light source for most of the day-lit hours during the year
  2. Select solar shading systems that ensure a high level of daylight quality and maintain view to the outside
  3. Focus on the school’s most utilised spaces, investing in daylight solutions where students are concentrated
  4. Combine the advantages of both façade windows and roof windows
Using multiple light sources
The colour, intensity and direction of natural light changes throughout the day, so it important to remember that no single light source is able to provide ideal lighting conditions at all times.

The impact of daylight and fresh air in classrooms

The influence of daylight and ventilation on student performance cannot be overstated – impacting every aspect of a student’s life from concentration levels and cognitive function to behaviour and how well they sleep.

Several studies from across the world have shown a positive correlation between the size of classroom windows and how well students perform on mathematics, logic and reading tests. Poor indoor air quality due to lack of ventilation has also been shown to seriously inhibit concentration and overall performance, as well as increasing absenteeism due to illness.

The presence of well-designed roof windows improved learning progress by 19-20%.

Providing natural light and ventilation in deep layouts

Roof windows, in particular, are uniquely able to provide natural light and fresh air to deeper layouts, such as classrooms, lecture halls and common areas, where the size and shape of the space does not allow for adequate lighting through façade windows alone.

Designing the ideal learning environment

When utilised in combination with façade windows, roof windows allow body heat and exhaust air to rise and escape upwards as part of a natural ventilation process. The addition of blinds, solar shading, glazing or light diffuse will also provide an energy efficient way to maintain cooler temperatures.

In terms of sound insulation, roof windows have also been shown to be far more effective than regular façade windows. When compared to a street-facing façade window, a skylight on the same side showed noise levels that were 8 dB lower. A skylight on the side furthest from the street showed noise level that were almost 15 dB lower.

Guildford County School Art Block

Case Study

When Guildford County School commissioned Lytle Associates to design its new art block, the school asked for a vibrant building that could spark the creative imagination of its students and help them achieve their learning potential.

Lytle Associates designed the art block to deliver optimal levels of daylight, ensuring the space was fit for creative, happy and motivated minds – using cedar cladding, coloured glass and VELUX roof windows to give the building a creative, playful character. The north-facing VELUX roof windows also provided pupils with access to diffused natural light – perfect for working art students in need of a consistent light source that is free from sharp, movable shadows.

Lytle Associates Director Sara Waterfield said, “Good natural light was essential for the design, as the quality and colour rendering of daylight gives the best environment for artists to work.”

What’s Next?

We hope you’ve found this pathway useful. Use the buttons to move to another pathway, or signup for more related content and CPD events.

Many thanks to Ian Goodfellow and the attendees of Design a brighter future, London, where we filmed and collected this material in summer 2018.