Danish architectural practice CEBRA has recently completed work on HF & VUC Fyn – an adult education centre in Odense, Denmark. This marks an important step towards tying the inner city and harbour via a new city campus, HF & VUC Fyn, which is located next to the central station.
The project combines elements borrowed from the building’s industrial neighbours and aims to bridge the scale between the harbour and Odense’s urban life. With an embracing and transparent interior, the HF & VUC Fyn complex has a robust yet modest exterior, which is contrasted by an inner spatial diversity of rounded forms, which creates a varied learning environment for the centre’s 1,300 students. A fun point to note is that these rounded forms were actually inspired by the round shapes of Disney’s Mickey Mouse character.
Being able to provide dynamic learning environments was a key consideration, and for this aim, the rounded shapes of the interior are characterised by consistent bright surfaces. Furthermore, the white interior gives the building a light feel, while the form and shape of the school opens up the space for delivering new ways of learning.
“The basic idea was to design a school that doesn’t look like a school. The general concept of a completed educational degree as a security to fall back on is subjected to a fundamental review. We realized that we must learn constantly in order to adapt to an ever-changing reality. An adult education centre like HF & VUC Fyn plays an essential role in maintaining a society’s competences for the future”, explains architect and co-founding partner Carsten Primdahl.
“Therefore, it’s essential that the centre is built on lasting values that revolve around the individual. The building has to adapt to the student and not the other way around. That is why the project focuses on creating a building with specialized, yet diverse environments, where students can find spaces and settings that match their own preferred learning style”, he continues.
With the ability to match students’ preferred learning style, the education complex’s rounded forms and curved lines cut through the rational volume’s regular form and create a multifaceted spatial setting that takes into account the school’s different functions. Functions that comprise not just an arena for teaching and learning, but also a workplace and a social meeting place for a diverse group of users.
With a total of 12,500 square metres of floor space, the building is centred on a transparent and very active atrium space, called the Agora. Functioning both as a forum for social activities as well as a learning environment connecting and allowing interplay with the classrooms, the Agora is situated in the middle of a series of balconies and platforms. These balconies have shifting overlaps across the atrium in order to create single, double and triple floor height spaces with varying degrees of daylight, transparency and intimacy.
Moving outside, the façade of the building uses a pattern of aluminium cover plates and expanded aluminium mesh to relate the exterior to its surroundings and to the industrial structures of the nearby harbour. Design office Kollision has designed a series of lighting designs in collaboration with CEBRA that emphasize the architectural pattern and create a vivid expression.The plates and mesh contribute to a dynamic expression that changes over the course of the day depending on the sunlight and weather conditions. In addition, selected mesh sections are backlit with LED lights in order to accentuate the building’s characteristic shapes.