From Floor Wax to Folk High School

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Designhøjskolen Højer 01

Photo by DANISH™

Designhøjskolen Højer today.

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Workshop area before the restoration.

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Workshop area after the restoration.

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Dining area before the restoration.

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Dining area after the restoration.

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Workshop area on the first floor before the restoration.

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Workshop area on the first floor after the restoration.

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Designhøjskolen Højer 09

Photo by DANISH™

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Photo by DANISH™

Head of Designhøjskolen Højer, Amy Jean Hamilton.

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Designhøjskolen Højer 02

Photo by DANISH™

Published
15.06.2017

A revitalised floor wax factory in Højer will house Denmark’s new folk high school opening in 2018.

The old floor wax factory in the town of Højer will support the creation of future great designers when the new folk high school Designhøjskolen Højer (ed. Design Folk High School Højer) starts classes in January 2018. The new creative folk high school demanded the right architectural surroundings and thus the old floor wax factory was appointed as the new hotbed for design education in the area.

Originally thought out and conceived by the partnering continuation school’s principal, Kirsten Boyschau Hansen, the new school employed Jørn Petersen as the main project developer. Together with the local architectural firm Arkkon Architects, Petersen led the development and present layout of the floor wax factory. This team planned how funding of almost DKK 10 million, including DKK 6 million from The A.P. Møller-Mærsk Fund, could help the transformation process – from worn-out factory to a creative learning hub for digital natives wanting to embark on a career in the world of design.

‘The old floor wax factory was a small, stringent industrial house that through 60 years had been a significant part of the streetscape in Højer. That obligates! Therefore, we sought to maintain the building’s original expression as much as possible. For example, the red/yellow brickwork on the facades – here, you’ll find no fancy water-scouring with coloured mortar,’ says Jørn Petersen.

The roof’s construction has been isolated and fitted with corrugated fibre cement roof tiles to main the industrial look. The old transom iron windows have been replaced with new ones – now with double-glazed thermal panes. This ‘preserves’ the same transom construction, but in an updated form.

‘Inside, we have kept the building’s vast open spaces with raw walls and flooring. On the first floor, most parts of the original roof rafters have been left visible, while a handful of oriels has been created with a light construction (to contrast with the heavy brick facades) to mark the beginning of a new creative life in the floor wax factory,’ says Jørn Petersen.

When the first students start their courses, their focal point will be one of four half-year courses: innovative fashion and accessories; visual and digital design; game design and animation; and podcast and sound design.

‘It will be a new chapter at this inventive plot in Højer. Luckily, there’s a professional overlap between the continuation school’s subjects and the focus of Designhøjskolen Højer, so it would be nice to welcome continuation school students back to Højer and the new Design Folk High School in a few years’ time,’ says head of Designhøjskolen Højer, Amy Jean Hamilton.

A habitat of creatives

The exact plot, where the former floor wax plant is situated, has been a habitat of creatives for decades.

‘Around here, the buildings have housed numerous creative people within design and innovation. Initially, an innovative floor wax factory, then a college for visual communication, then a continuation school with a focus on design, and now, the adjoining plot will also house a folk high school pre-course in design, starting in January 2018,’ says Amy Jean Hamilton.

Continuing the story of the creative force inside the floor wax factory, this place’s history will have close ties to the coming use of the factory as a folk high school. Beginning in 1953, the factory was run by Christian Johannsen, a true renaissance man who involved himself in the whole floor-waxing process and created the machines for applying the floor wax.

In the same way, Amy Jean Hamilton hopes that students attending the school will also engage in a cross-disciplinary approach when solving their assignments and preparing for admissions tests at art schools in Denmark and abroad.

‘We’ll pay great attention to the cross-disciplinary aspects of design and the creative field as a whole. As a great designer, you need to collaborate with and understand a lot of different professions, methodologies and approaches, allowing you to navigate in constantly changing business fields and creative universes,’ concludes Amy Jean Hamilton.

Learn more about Designhøjskolen Højer at www.designhojskolenhojer.dk