Activating Humans Through Design


Footpaths and public area by Henning Larsen Architects 04

Photo by Hufton + Crow

The 900 pupils at the new Henning Larsen Architects-designed school are welcomed into a 15,000 square metre school. Here, movement is a cornerstone, and in connection with the centre atrium, the pupils will find shared practical rooms, laboratories and learning kitchens.


Wayfinding Frederiksbjerg School

Photo by Henning Larsen Architects


Inside Frederiksbjerg School

Photo by Hufton+Crow for Henning Larsen Architects.


The birds swing Henning Larsen Architects

Photo Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects


100 words - learning foil

Photo Courtesy of HolmrisB8


walk this way

Photo Courtesy of HolmrisB8


Iglo with learning foil

Photo Courtesy of HolmrisB8


A year on the floor

Photo Courtesy of HolmrisB8


Søndervang School - DK

Photo Courtesy of Friis & Moltke


1.2 km of hallway

Photo Courtesy of Friis & Moltke


The yellow part

Photo Courtesy of Friis & Moltke


To sit or to play

Photo Courtesy of Friis & Moltke


A net to kill time

Photo Courtesy of Friis & Moltke


With the theme of “December: play and learn through design and architecture” this is the first of two compilations that shows how Danish designers and architects work with playfulness and learning through their competencies. This article will focus on how to activate kids and grown-ups at schools for the sake of better learning.


Inside Frederiksbjerg School

Photo by Hufton+Crow for Henning Larsen Architects.

Frederiksbjerg School – by Henning Larsen architects:

Designed to promote physical activity, the school allows the children to get through the day in more than 100 different ways. Frederiksbjerg School represents an innovative approach to school architecture in Denmark. A key element is that the children are encouraged to be physically active throughout the day. By means of climbing stairs, Tarzan tracks, and playgrounds, the children’s journey from A to B is designed to be a fun physical challenge. Customized zones for presentations, group work, and individual studies support the educational and didactic principles of the school. Physical activity is inevitable at Frederiksbjerg School.

The results are better learning and higher test scores.


Light and Learning

A diverse use of light and colour, combined with a varied inflow of daylight, have a great impact on how time and space are perceived by the users of a building. Thus, daylight has been a parameter in developing a varied and inspiring learning environment.

The facade of Frederiksbjerg School features a graduation of window sizes, with the largest placed in the middle, the smaller windows at the top and the smallest windows at ground floor level. This window pattern creates a natural daylight variation throughout the day, supporting a variety of different learning settings. A PhD project of Henning Larsen architects has continuously worked on documenting the effects of artificial light as well as daylight. In Frederiksbjerg School the architects have worked strategically with focused light sources in the classrooms. Their research shows that it is possible to reduce noise levels in classrooms significantly by using focused light sources such as pendants.

Want to visit the school with a video tour made by Henning Larsen Architects?


walk this way

Photo Courtesy of HolmrisB8

Visual Learning Environment – by HolmrisB8, SMAK Architects and Hello Monday

Together with SMAK Architects and Hello Monday, HolmrisB8 have developed a series of learning foils that inspire curiosity to learn and serve as a concrete tool for teaching – in a new, creative and exciting way.

By using learning foils, it is possible to create spaces that are coded to reflect a specific behaviour, with a design that enables pupils to quickly decode what is possible in the space.

Appealing to the senses helps boost motivation, energy and learning.

Three Series:

The learning foils are divided into three series: Learning, Navigate and Flex & Play.

As an example, the learning series shows multiplication table tracks, which can be used to teach maths, allowing pupils with a kinaesthetic learning preference to learn and memorise their tables by walking, running or side-stepping, while pupils with a visual learning preference can learn and recognise the tables as patterns.

Similar to this, the navigation series can be utilised for instance in lower secondary classes, where strong coding and differentiation of the spaces makes it easier for pupils to decode the subject and the appropriate behaviour in relation to the classwork.

Lastly the Flex & Play series provides the opportunity to use simple graphic building blocks that can be combined in countless ways as needed and adapted to spaces of any size and shape. The series can also be combined with fixtures to create programmes to promote movement and that can be used in teaching different exercises.


The yellow part

Photo Courtesy of Friis & Moltke

Movement Track at Søndervangskolen – by Friis & Moltke

Redecorating 1.2 kilometres of hallway at the Søndervang School was the task – to activate the space and utilise the area by creating several spaces for activities as well as for contemplation.

FRIIS & MOLTKE has contributed to the work as counsellors while the remodelling of the school is financially supported by Real Dania. The goal was to create a movement track consisting of different zones for activity and, through this, support the establishment of a culture that integrates learning and physical activity.

The Power of Playing

The result is a place that makes room for an experimental and project-based approach towards learning, where kids, youngsters and adults are able to meet across generations, ages, interests and competencies. Alongside this, the movement track also serves as a way to combine the school with the workout facilities nearby, as well as a citizen house on the plot. The goal is to activate the school as a collateral point where playfulness, learning and movement contributes to a thriving community. An active collaboration with local unions is already in place and the overall ambition for the school is that it should be open to the public 365 days a year and work as a hub for the citizens in the area.



Companies mentioned in this article

The goal of DANISH™ is to promote Danish architecture and design in a broad perspective, and demonstrate all the potentials in these fields.

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