Project team:


Client: HellerupHigh School
Creative Director: Bjarke Ingels /BIG Bjarke Ingels Group
Project Architect: Frederik Lyng
Project team: Narissa Ladawal Schröder, Henrick Poulsen, Dennis Rasmussen, Jeppe Ecklohn, Rune Hansen, Riccardo Mariano, Christian Alvare Gomez, Xu Li, Jakob Lange, Thomas Juul-Jensen
Partner: Finn Nøkjær
Project management: Ole Schrøder (concept), Ole Elkjær-Larsen (construction)
Lighting design: BIG Bjarke Ingels Group
In collaboration with:
CG Jensen (contractor): Klaus Mels Nielsen, Dion Munksgaard
EKJ (consulting engineers): Flemming Tagmose
Grontmij (client consultant): Anders Ring Petersen

22. Oct 2013

Old School
New multifunctional space and sports facility for HellerupHigh School in Copenhagen/DK

Text: Sonja Kiekens, Alison Ritter
Photos: Jens Lindhe

Architect and former pupil at Hellerup High School Bjarke Ingels has designed a building that bears witness to the playful approach and empathy of a person who has not forgotten what it was like to be a pupil at a Danish high school – in fact, this high school.
The soft curved roof of the underground volume takes its form from the mathematical equation of the trajectory of a ball thrown in a handball game. In homage to his old math teacher, Bjarke Ingels and his team used the mathematical formula for a ballistic arc to shape the geometry of the roof which in turn creates a veritable molehill in the midst of the school complex. The curved roof provides space for social interaction and exploits the intriguing effects created by both natural light and electric light.

Schoolchildren spend a lot of their time in and outside of school concentrating on anything but school work. Social changes going on around one are just as important as the next maths test. When it comes to social interaction between pupils the schoolyard always has been and still is the hub for communication on all levels and a platform with which a pupil identifies his own school. The better this is tailored to meet the needs of the schoolchildren, the more chance there is of the young people identifying themselves with their place of learning, and of attracting new pupils to apply for a place there. The atmosphere in the former schoolyard at Hellerup High School was typical of what we still frequently encounter today: grey – in every sense of the word. And light? Well, the schoolyard was bathed in daylight, of course, but even in the summer most of the pupils tended to hang around in the shade along the walls or the edges, which seemed more appropriate meeting places for sharing forbidden things or secrets. Even on days when there was not a cloud in the sky the central part of the schoolyard was never really used.
Bjarke Ingels was clearly aware of all this. He designed what first appears to be nothing more than a new multipurpose hall for Hellerup High School, but has in fact created a whole new schoolyard landscape through the positioning and shape of the new gymnasium.

HellerupHigh School today offers a variety of specialized study programmes within the fields of social science, the humanities and natural science. Architecturally speaking, the school features characteristic yellow brick buildings that date back to the fifties. The different school buildings are located around a schoolyard, or playground. It was opened in 1894 and today hosts around 900 pupils. The sports facilities left a lot to be desired and it became clear that a new multifunctional hall was needed, which would also attract more pupils to what is now a sixth form college. The new building was to be flexible and sustainable and designed to be used for sports, graduation ceremonies and social events.

Bjarke Ingels Group, BIG, decided against building the gymnasium outside the existing building complex, which would have meant the schoolchildren would have been even more widely dispersed. Their idea was to position the new hall as a connecting element between the existing High School facilities and to make it a social focal point, a place for the sixth formers to meet. […]

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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 90
And our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store) contains a media-enhanced version.

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