Text description provided by the architects. Designed by Henning Larsen Architects and GPP Architects Danish School Building of the Year, Frederiksbjerg School, is the first school in Denmark to meet the demands of the Danish school reform of 2013. The law focuses on learning through movement and sensation as well as openness and community creation. Part of the reform is a demand of a minimum of 45 minutes of movement and activity throughout school hours.
The school is situated in the district of Frederiksbjerg in Aarhus city centre. It is already a gathering point for the children and youth of the local society. Inside the building offers a great variety in space, light and materiality, thus creating an adaptable and sentient learning environment with a focus on health and fellowship. Outside the school adapts to its historical surroundings by means of heights and materiality.
The school houses 900 students, a daycare facility and a youth club, and after school hours the premises can be used for evening classes, courses and sports arranged by local associations and societies. Large terraces and outdoor teaching facilities contribute to the area by bringing the teaching and school life into the cityscape. The outdoor facilities are open around the clock.
Frederiksberg School is organized around a center atrium where the building's four clusters meet and join together. The clusters are built around a shared center-room encouraging various activities and/or quite studies. The 40 activity areas focus on learning through movement and play. These areas are specifically fitted to different age groups and their levels of understanding and motion. The study areas are small niches that create quiet space for individual study.
The school shares public playgrounds and outside areas with the surrounding houses and institutions. The playgrounds are supplemented by big terraces on each floor which work as both learning and playing areas. On the rooftop you find playing fields and areas with furniture where you can sit, relax and enjoy the view. Some of the terraces can in addition be used as outside workshops for the classes. All the terraces are open for the public outside of school opening hours.
Frederiksbjerg School was recently awarded Danish School Building of the Year 2016.
Ad. 1: The facades are made from reused brick of which a large part stem from historical buildings of the neighborhood. Some of the oldest bricks used to form the regional hospital of Aarhus, which was built in the 1880s. Others stem from the former Sct. Annagade School, which was built in 1953 and torn down in 2014 to make space for the new Frederiksbjerg School.
”It takes more for the bricklayers to work with reused brick because of the stone’s variety in shape and color. But the extra effort increases by far the value of the building. The façade appears warm and glowing unlike other new-built brick houses,” architect Margrete Grøn, Henning Larsen Architects explains.
It is yet rather rare to build projects of such a great scale in reused brick in Denmark, and the construction at Frederiksbjerg did challenge the capacity of the manufacturer “Gamle Mursten” (meaning “Old Bricks”) in the process of cleaning the total of 400,000 bricks.
Ad. 3: The graphic design concept has been developed in line with the architectural intention. Graphic designers at Henning Larsen Architects have created the visual identity of the building with the keywords openness, kindness, motion, diversity, play, and learning as a common objective.
The typography, Deyinyl, is the initial key for the remaining parts of all graphics and signs, repeated both in- and outdoors.
The typeface exists in seven selections, with their own unique definition, creating a distinct and clear geometrical expression throughout the building.
By varying all seven typographic selections, the designers have created an expression which is both playful, dynamic and fluid. The colors correspond with the additional elements in the new building, where the color red acts as the primary color. The graphics also supports the main maps, maps of orientation, floorplans and glass markings, lockers and signs on meeting rooms and facades.
Quotes and inspirational words, adapted to the specific course and age level, are likewise implemented on classroom walls and glass. Here the graphics underline and clarify the spatial traits of the different rooms, while communicating academic useful information equal for students and teachers.
Ad. 4: The artistic decorations at Frederiksbjerg School is just as diverse as the school. Sculptures, paintings and artistic installations have been integrated in the building design and placed around the school.
Rosen Eken, the Danish artist who have created most of the art pieces at the school, explains her thoughts about her creations:
“The task was to create both big extensive creations and small almost invisible pieces. I especially loved the idea about creating pieces that you might not notice at first sight.”
She has created small goggle-boxes in the walls that you can look through and into a miniature parallel world. The miniature worlds show everyday situations, a birthday party and a motorcycle repair shop.
“I work with everyday objects. It has been important to me that the children can relate to the situations and objects that the pieces present,” Rosen Eken states.
Besides the goggle-boxes, Rosen Eken has created some big wall paintings and bronze sculptures, which pictures everyday furniture and elements. E.g. one of the sculptures are an abandoned school bag. The idea is that the art is hard to separate from the reality.