Designing quality learning spaces
The Designing Quality Learning Spaces (DQLS) guidelines are a suite of documents focused on creating quality indoor learning environments. The fundamental purpose of these guidelines are to ensure that the indoor environment of school buildings support quality education. It is important that learning spaces are usable, healthy, and comfortable.
The way teachers and learners engage with each other has changed significantly, which has led to changes in the way schools are designed. Currently the Ministry’s DQLS guidelines cover acoustics (2016), indoor air quality and thermal comfort (2017), and lighting (2007, currently being updated).
These DQLS guidelines will support design teams.
The target audience for guidelines is design professionals who are involved in the design and specification of school buildings. However, anyone who is involved in the development or use of school buildings will find these guidelines useful.
When to use the DQLS guidelines
These guidelines apply when you are undertaking new projects or upgrading a school building.
A design team must ensure that any new learning space design complies with the standards set out in the DQLS guidelines.
Upgrades should meet the standards as near as practical.
Download and read these guidelines to become familiar with the minimum design standards expected by the Ministry, and to brief design teams and trades people on the Ministry’s requirements.
DQLS – Acoustics version 2.0 is a substantial update on the 2007 guide.
The key changes are:
- Ministry requirements are now clearly marked as ‘mandatory’ or ‘recommendation’. These requirements are mandatory for all projects from 1 January 2016.
- This version has more specific requirements for the various learning spaces, along with guidance on how design teams can achieve these standards.
A non technical two page overview is also available for reading and download. It summarises the full aims of the guidelines and some key concepts.
Indoor Air Quality and Thermal Comfort (2017)
DQLS – Indoor Air Quality and Thermal Comfort guide specifically focuses on improving the indoor learning environment through having adequate air quality and thermal comfort.
Ministry requirements are now clearly marked as ‘mandatory’ or as a ‘recommendation’, the guide’s requirements are mandatory for all projects starting after 1 January 2018.
The document replaces the Ministry’s 2007 guidelines - Indoor Air Quality and Heating and Insulation.
The technical requirements have been updated to reflect changes in the way teaching spaces are used and designed.
A non-technical two-page overview is also available for reading and download.
It summarises the full guideline’s aim and some key concepts.
The DQLS – lighting guide focuses on achieving good lighting, with an emphasis on natural light. It also discusses recommended lighting levels for the various learning spaces. This guideline is currently being updated and is due for release in 2018.
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