From a blind wall to a wide landscape; views can differ considerably. And yet very little attention is paid to the topic within the field of architecture. Dr Hester Hellinga has discovered that people who are satisfied with their views are often also satisfied with the amount of daylight in their workplaces.
Hellinga developed a tool for assessing views, so that architects can now pay more attention to lines of sight and the use of landscaping when positioning a building on a plot.
She asked office workers in various buildings to assess the quality of their workplaces in terms of their offices, the lighting and the view. She then developed a method for analysing daylight and view, including a system for assessing the quality of the view. In the system, scores are assigned to various aspects.
In the examples from Hellinga’s thesis, the scores for daylight and view range from two points for a view of a gray concrete surface to eleven points for a view of a green slope along a river on the edge of a wood. Less variation was found in the subjective ratings assigned by the respondents (2.0–8.3), although they follow the same general trend.
In the film adaptation of ‘A Room with a View’, based on a novel of the same title by E.M. Forster, a certain Mr Emerson states, “Men don’t need views.” In contrast to women, he means. “Our vision is within,” he continues.
Although Hellinga does not rule out the possibility that men and women might rate views in different ways, she focused on the average ratings, without making any further distinctions based on sex, age or cultural background. These results were largely consistent with her rating system.
Hellinga also investigated the impact of the window (size, height, proportions) on the assessment of the view. To this end, she had the respondents look outside from within a scale model (1:5) of an office. By changing the facade of the model, she was able to examine the influence of different windows and views of the visual quality of the office space.
Results from this second study reveal that people prefer a window that takes up at least a quarter of the wall, but not a wall entirely made of glass. The shape of the window is less important, but a ‘landscape’ window is deemed preferable to a ‘portrait’ orientation. The proportion of sky in the view is a relatively good indicator of the amount of daylight.