Didactic daylight design for education

Jonathan R. White
Master's Thesis | Spring 2009

STATEMENT OF ISSUE This thesis investigates a modeling method for daylight design in the early design phase, as a means of promoting a positive and inclusive educational environment that allows for multiple modes of learning. Specifically, this study focuses on developing a tool for designers to study and apply daylighting methods in a rapid but informed manner. It also provides metrics to allow design- ers to analyze different daylighting design variables in relation to one another and against the light- ing requirements of different modes of learning.

STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE OF ISSUE The design of learning environments is an important specialty within architectural practice, and encompasses “ever changing educational theories, the subtle spatial and psychological require- ments of growing children and practical issues that are unique to these types of buildings.” (Dudek, 2000) It is argued that the architectural environment has a psychological effect on all humans, but can an inclusive, naturally well-lit environment presented to children aid in cognitive, spatial, and sensorial development? The significance of this topic lies in the fact that our first formal learning environments have the capability to influence the development of attitudes, knowledge, and skills throughout our lives. If all children experienced well-designed, inclusive environments, would they be more curious, creative, and open to new experiences, people, and places? Numerous studies have concluded that children experiencing naturally well-lit environments perform better on stan- dard tests and that natural light promotes positive learning behaviors. Despite this, there seems to be few examples of naturally well-lit schools. This thesis proposes a tool designers can use to aid in the development of day lit schools and how can the lighting strategies be customized based on the different modes of learning?

Thesis Committee: Beth Tauke, Kenneth MacKay & Edward Steinfeld