Danish architects CEBRA, along with developers Pihl & Søn and engineers Hundsbæk & Henriksen recenlty won the competition for a new Adult Education Centre of in downtown Odense, Denmarks’s third largest city. The 12.500 m2 / 134.550 ft2 educational institution aims at creating a flexible and diverse learning environment that gives room for individual needs in a collective building. According to the plans, the centre will open at the beginning of 2014. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The design is characterized by a system of curved lines and rounded forms, which cut through the building volume’s regular form and create transparent and various spatialities around a central atrium – a duality that creates interaction, diversity and versatility i regards of both the internal and external organization of the new AEC.
Architect Mikkel Frost, co-founder and -owner of CEBRA, outlines the project’s basic idea: “We designed a school that doesn’t look like a school. The general conception of a completed educational degree as a security to fall back on is subjected to a fundamental review. We have realized that we must learn constantly in order to adapt to ever-changing reality. An Adult Education centre will play a pivotal role in maintaining society’s competences in the future. It is therefore essential that it is built on lasting values that revolve around the individual. The building has to adapt to the student and not the other way around. Neither ultra-flexible nor rigid programs show consideration for individual needs. That is why we focused on creating a building with specialized, yet diverse environments, where students can find spaces and settings that match their own preferred learning style.”
The competition jury states that the team’s proposal “in a convincing way expresses modern and flexible adult education with focus on diversity. The building indicates a variety of possible ways of acquiring knowledge, offering different types of spaces and learning environments for a diverse group of adolescents and adults.”
The Agora – activity and contemplation
The building is organized around a transparent and very active atrium, called the Agora and named after the public gathering place in ancient Greek cities that constituted the center of political, spiritual and artistic life in the city state. The levels of activity decrease gradually from the Agora and outwards with the most calm and private spaces located along the building’s outer edges. At the same time, this organizational principle is transferred from plan to section with the highest levels of activity and transparency at the bottom and spaces for contemplation at the top floor. The Agora’s central gathering point consists of a sculptural, cone shaped staircase. Besides functioning as a social and visual point of reference, the staircase also is a point of orientation towards the rest of the building with visual contact to the café, administration, information desk, multipurpose hall, stage and additional functions. Thus, it can be used as a viewing platform, social meeting point, lounge area or amphistands in connection with the stage.
The building in the city
A series of curved incisions in the basic volume ensure interaction between the building’s activities and functions and the city around it. The carvings communicate between the interior and exterior in the form of roofed outdoor areas and roof terraces that create relief and an accessible scale at street level. The concept for the surrounding urban space carries on the building’s formal language by inserting several ellipse-shaped islands into the street scene, which generate ‘friction’ between the traffic and the different zones in the urban space. The movements are set into vibration, the traffic is slowed down and passers-by interact with the nearby islands and buildings.
It is essential for the experience of this local environment that the urban space is marked as an open communal space. In combination with the incisions into the building volume, the concept for the urban space increases accessibility in an urban context.
Location: Odense, Denmark
Client: VUC FYN & FYNs HF-kursus
Cooperation: E. Pihl & Søn, Hundsbæk & Henriksen
Purpose: Adult education center
Size: 12.500 m2
Budget: DKK 158 mio ekskl. moms
Prize: Competition 1st prize
Service: Architectural services
Energy class: Energy class standard 2015
Year: 2012 – ongoing