Daylight in schools


A current topic in Norway related to physical learning environment,  is Daylight in schools. A new input in this discourse came in the Norwegian review of architecture; “Arkitektur N”, late November 2014.

The article “A bright future for everyone?”,is about a comparative study of daylight in teaching spaces for vocational and academic study programmes. The study is done and presented by Architect MNAL and Associate Professor Leif Houck and project engineer Nina Huynh.

This is a summary of the article.

A bright future for everyone?

A comparative study of teaching spaces for vocational and academic study programmes

Following the construction of a number of new secondary schools in recent years, experience seemed to suggest that there might be a difference in the quality of teaching spaces offered to students following different teaching programmes. Notably, despite decades of political focus on schools as an arena for challenging social segregation, it seemed that students taking practical training were worse off than students on the academic courses, in terms of teaching environment. In this study, Leif Houck and Nina Huyhn have examined seven new schools from different parts of Norway, comparing teaching spaces based on a room score that quantifies a number of factors affecting perceived environmental quality: daylight, views and room configuration (room depth relative to ceiling height).

The study shows that there is a significant difference between the spaces allocated to vocational vs. academic programmes at secondary school level in the seven examined schools. Lack of daylight and access to views affects a significant number of students in vocational training for a significant part of their time at school, suggesting that there is indeed a bias, from commissioners as well as designers, against these programmes as somehow “lower status” programmes that can be relegated to basements and internal corridors. This needs to be addressed and improved in future school projects, conclude Houck and Huyhn.


Leif Houck is an architect MNAL and Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Nina Huynh is a project engineer with HENT AS. Research for this article was the basis of her Master thesis at MNBU, 2015.


The article “A bright future for everyone?” was presented in the Norwegian review of architecture; "Arkitektur N”, late November 2014.