The Impact of Daylight on a School Renovation Project in Copenhagen
Architects have always considered the positive influence of natural light on the health and mood of a building’s occupants, but measuring its actual benefits was a challenge for a long time. However, the past few decades have seen significant progress in this area, with research such as the comprehensive study conducted by the Heschong Mahone Group, which analyzed more than 21,000 student tests in three school districts in California, Washington, and Colorado. The results showed that students in classrooms with more natural light had a 20% faster learning progress in math tests and 26% in reading tests, compared to students in classrooms with less natural light. Many other studies reinforce that including natural light in spaces has immense long-term benefits for societies, especially during a child’s valuable formative years, who spend about 90% of their time indoors and about 200 days a year in classrooms.
The renovation and extension project of the Grøndalsvængets School in the suburbs of Copenhagen, Denmark, by JJW Architects, is an excellent example of how to apply architectural research in a practical way. The school is an almost 100-year-old building that has been expanded with new spaces for sports, music and learning. The success of the project was achieved through two vital design strategies. First, the reuse of 250,000 bricks from a nearby dilapidated hospital, which allowed them to maintain the local aesthetics and reduce the environmental footprint that producing new bricks would have had.
The second strategy was the introduction of VELUX Modular Skylights to provide optimal levels of natural light and fresh air throughout the school, ensuring a healthy and productive environment for students. The use of skylights leads to less reliance on artificial lighting, while natural ventilation reduces the need for air conditioning and mechanical ventilation in warmer months.
A total of 77 Northlight modules were used in the project, as well as 4 acrylic domes above the school’s social and breakout spaces. The VELUX Northlight System is a type of modular skylight designed for large interior spaces such as commercial buildings, warehouses, and educational institutions. Consisting of individual modules that can be combined in a variety of configurations and angles to meet the specific needs of a building or space, they feature energy-efficient high-performance glazing and are constructed from sustainable materials, which can be easily disassembled and recycled at the end of their useful life. It is an especially good system for renovations due to their easy installation and seamless integration into existing building systems.
The zenith lighting creates a harmonious environment for study and play by providing soft light and reducing glare, which makes it safer for students to engage in sports activities. In addition, the integration of blinds helps manage the indoor climate, contributing to the reduction of problems with the occupants’ well-being, such as headaches and fatigue. These features were carefully thought out by the architects to create a healthier and more enjoyable learning environment for the school’s students.
We want to create the best environment for teaching and learning, so when I walk around the school it gives me joy to see students and teachers happy. With the presence of daylight and a good indoor climate, we have a school environment where everyone can do their best.
– Headmaster, Kristoffer Gregerson, Grondalsvængets School
Projects such as the Grøndalsvængets School highlight the importance of incorporating architectural and design research to create healthy and productive educational spaces. The use of modular skylights not only provides a healthy and enjoyable learning environment for students, but also contributes to the sustainability of the built environment, along with other important initiatives. An ideal environment accelerates learning abilities and this can unleash more benefits than we can imagine in the future.
Learn more about the system in our product catalog.