Cultivating Danish Education Through Architecture

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Published
05.10.2018

How is it possible to convert aesthetic and sustainable architectural design into learning and a blooming local society? Take a look at the impressive construction of Campus Kolding at the University of Southern Denmark.

The campus in Kolding is part of the University of Southern Denmark and was designed by the award-winning Danish Henning Larsen Architects and Kristine Jensen Landscape Architects. The university building welcomed its first students in September 2014.

Human and educational benefits

Per Krogh Hansen is the Head of Department at the University of Southern Denmark. In an interview with Henning Larsen Architects (HLA), he spoke about the introduction of the new campus in Kolding:

“People always stop and stare when they enter the campus for the very first time. Their eyes wander up along the great pillars, and they are amazed by the capaciousness of the building. We have placed a high priority on offering big, open spaces for the students, because we wanted to move the learning out of the classrooms and into the free spaces.”

Partner and architect at HLA, Signe Kongebro elaborates on how she thinks the clever design culminated in a building that is truly fit for purpose:

“We have made an architectural design that’s dragging learning processes out in the open and into the heart of the building; away from long corridors and enclosed classrooms, which are often seen in traditional university and faculty buildings. The dynamic atrium with the staircase invites students to gather together for informal meetings. This creates a possibility of choosing seamlessly between varied and informal learning environments and study areas, while the classrooms and offices are representing a more formal part of the university at the edges of the building.”

Per Krogh Hansen confirms that they, as an educational institution, wanted to offer varied types of study spaces for the students and teachers to suit all manner of meetings.

“We have both plenty of room for individual learning and high tables for formal and informal group sessions. Then, we have some more enclosed arrangements, which function as semi-open group rooms. Teachers often move the lessons out of the classrooms and into these rooms, as this has been shown to make the students work together more and learn from each other. This also makes the students develop a greater curiosity about what their fellow students are working on,” says Hansen.

Viewed on a slightly larger scale, the blossoming university area of Kolding has encouraged many new people to move to the city, and has even fostered the establishment of new learning institutions just around the corner. Mayor of Kolding, Jørn Pedersen, says:

“Since the new campus appeared, hundreds of new students’ apartments have popped up in the nearby area. IBA Kolding is currently constructing their own new campus on the neighbouring ground, and UC South and the Design School Kolding are also working on other buildings that will stand alongside the university. The university building hasn’t merely been a boost to the local community; it means that we no longer dream of being a city of education – we are one”.

The sustainable aspect

Since the new campus was inaugurated four years ago, a lot has changed in the Danish city of Kolding. Mayor, Jørn Pedersen, states that the introduction of the new educational areas has made a meaningful difference to the local community.

”The new campus of the Southern University of Denmark is a truly amazing construction and it has given a dramatic mental boost to the entire surrounding areas. Along with the establishment of the new campus, the educational courses changed, so we now offer a greater variety of courses in Kolding than in any other Danish university cities. This means that Kolding has developed a completely unique profile resulting in UNESCO including Kolding on their Creative Cities list as a Design City in 2017,” says Jørn Pedersen, who concludes:

“Also, the fact that the entire construction is built to be very sustainable has made a great impact on our community”.

Setting the bar higher for future sustainable Danish education learning institutions has been one of the most vital specifications given to the architects at Henning Larsen. Signe Kongebro says:

”The Campus Kolding of the University of Southern Denmark is the first truly energy efficient university building in Europe. Through a significant focus on sustainable architecture, we have not only minimized the building’s needs in terms of energy for lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation, but we have also worked to optimize the passive capabilities, with the result that the shape and construction of the building are in themselves solving some of the problems that would otherwise have been solved by the use of energy-demanding technology initially. This has led to a power consumption of merely 40 kWh/m²/year, which is the equivalent of 20–25 percent of similar constructions.”

Read more about the project here.

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