Community centres of the future


In large cities as well as small local communities, multi-purpose cultural centres are today’s informal meeting places. Here, local citizens come together for sports, to eat together, for cultural events - and everything in-between. In an online theme from Troldtekt A/S, leading experts and architects share their knowledge about multi-purpose cultural centres.

Communal dining, theatre, sports and parties. In recent years, a number of multi-purpose cultural centres have seen the light of day, particularly in the Nordic countries. The buildings look set to become tomorrow’s meeting places – in large cities as well as small villages.

“Multi-purpose cultural centres are informal meeting places. Unlike sports clubs, for example, users don’t have to pay a fixed membership fee and come along every Monday all year round. Instead, they can come along when it suits them, and depending on what’s happening,” explains Helle Nørgaard, senior researcher at the Danish Building Research Institute, in a recent interview with Troldtekt A/S.

The interview with the researcher is part of a new theme on multi-purpose cultural centres. The theme can be found online at, and also includes a report about a former church which has been reinvented as the Folkehuset Absalon cultural centre in the Vesterbro district of Copenhagen.

Culture and community come together

There is also an interview with Robert Schmitz, partner and lead architect with White Architects. He is part of the team that designed the award-winning cultural centre in Skellefteå. The centre is a showcase example of sustainably designed architecture for a variety of cultural activities.

“When working with public projects, the main challenge is always to bring people together and create natural places for people to meet and interact. The auditorium is fantastic, but it does not bring life to the surrounding cityscape. By enhancing the spaces between the functions, making sure they are properly climatised and have good light and acoustics, we create common areas that invite co-function and allow people to meet and interact. We did not want this to just be a high culture building that people would feel reserved about entering,” says Robert Schmitz in the interview with Troldtekt.

School gets new lease of life as villagers’ own building

Also in this theme, the architect Erik Brandt Dam shares with the readers his thoughts behind Nr. Vium Sports and Cultural Centre, which in 2017 received the prestigious Danish RETROFIT award for the best renovation project. The project involved transforming the village school into a meeting place for local people, while respecting the original architecture.

“The school served as a meeting place within the parish for many years, so it was important for us to work with the existing facilities and the psychological values inherent in the building. The users’ group needed to feel that the building was theirs rather than a brand-new concept being served up to them by us, the architects. In this way, the value of the new building is more strongly rooted in the community,” says Erik Brandt Dam in the theme at


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The award-winning Skellefteå Cultural Center in Sweden is designed by White Architects to be a model for sustainable design and construction where all forms of culture live side-by-side. Copyright© White Architects
The award-winning community centre Folkehuset Absalaon is situated in the Vesterbro district of Copenhagen. Teeming with life every day, this is where people of all ages come together for communal meals, yoga, dancing and cultural events. Copyright© Helene Høyer Mikkelsen
The school in the Danish village Nr. Vium has been given a new lease of life as village community centre. With Erik Brandt Dam Arkitekter as committed consultants, the former school has been transformed into a multi-purpose cultural centre, which won the Danish Retrofit Award 2017. Copyright© Helene Høyer Mikkelsen