Learning situations are shaped by their architectural surroundings, and some schools even boast environments designed by leading architects. We take a look at three Danish-designed primary and lower secondary schools, which are either total designs or conversion projects, where architecture has been given new life through a transformation.
With a total of 9,500 square metres, the new school in the southern harbour of Copenhagen (Skolen i Sydhavnen) is the area’s new ship, according to the Danish architectural practice JJW Architects, which designed it. A ship where the students get on board to embark on their educational journey. Inside, the ship is experienced as a varied city, where the different spaces act as the city’s usual mix of houses, workshops, shops, street and squares.
The many different spaces offer great flexibility and inspire diversity of use. At the same time, the school supports the natural role of the quarter’s new centre – a central element in why JJW Architects won the international design competition to design the school in 2006.
“We bring the school out to the city, while at the same time bring the city into the city. We almost let the city’s streets continue through the school on one side, while we open the school towards the harbour. We have made the school’s rooftops walkable, thereby making the roofs a part of the cityscape. Inside the building, the space is designed so that classrooms and common areas can facilitate the city in the best way possible outside of the school’s opening hours,” says Lars B. Lindeberg, Architect and Associated Partner at JJW Architects.
According to Lars B. Lindeberg, the social space is a central element in the school. The underlying basis is an understanding of the school as a meeting between learning and social development. The social space is intended for big communities, the personal meeting, and everything in between. There has to be room for big meetings, events for whole classes, class teaching and group work – all the way down to that brainstorm that unfolds between classmates at the window ledge.
In Gentofte, north of Copenhagen, lies Munkegaard School, which is a school originally designed by world-renowned Danish architect Arne Jacobsen. In 2009, the Danish architectural practice Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter revamped the school with a modernization. The school was restored to its original detail and updated to accommodate interdisciplinary courses and differentiated teaching.
The extension was designed to embrace interaction and diversity and to allow pupils to learn from each other, formally and informally, through the adaptability and flexibility of the learning spaces. The original school consists of a repeated structure of building and courtyards. The new underground extension used this theme, establishing daylight in the parterre plan via four large courtyards, designed as crystal-like openings.
The restoration, conversion and extension of the protected Munkegaard School encompassed 8,500 square metres, while the extension covers an area of 1,600 square metres. According to the architects, the simple architectural vision of going beneath the ground, where the preservation line ends, was the solution that connected the school infrastructure with pedagogical persuasion.
In Copenhagen – at the northern harbour to be more exact – the Danish architectural firm C.F. Møller recently designed a new school named Copenhagen International School, Nordhavn. The 25,000 square metre school building will be Copenhagen’s largest school and will accommodate 1,200 students and 280 employees when it opens at the beginning of 2017.
The main school building is subdivided into four smaller “towers”, ranging from five to seven storeys, each specially adapted to meet the needs of children at different stages of development. From the architects’ viewpoint, the subdivision of the school into four units facilitates community, identity and easy wayfinding.
Twelve thousand solar panels will cover the school building’s unique facade, each individually angled to create a sequin-like effect, which will supply more than half of the school’s annual electricity consumption. The solar cells will cover 6,048 square metres, making it one of the largest building-integrated solar power plants in Denmark.
In addition to contributing to the school’s green profile, the solar cells also form a permanent part of the school’s curriculum, allowing students to monitor energy production and use data in physics and mathematics classes.