New school of architecture encourages experimentation and a sense of community

Denmark’s first newly built school of architecture has been conceived as a laboratory for learning and architectural experimentation. Copenhagen-based ADEPT has acted as the turnkey consultant, and here, architect and founding partner Martin Krogh shares some of the thoughts behind the project, which features several variants of Troldtekt acoustic ceilings.

New Aarch

Aarhus School of Architecture has moved into its brand-new premises, where everything is housed under one roof. The result is a potential for stronger synergies than was possible when the school was spread across various locations. The new building – NEW AARCH – is, in fact, Denmark’s first newly built school of architecture.

The school is located is in the new district around Godsbanan on the site of the former railway goods yard in Aarhus. The Godsbanen district is a cultural and creative melting pot, which is bringing together cultural production, events and open workshops as well as being a vibrant educational and business area.

In spite of its compact building volume, the school of architecture does not dominate the surroundings. From the street, the building terraces downwards towards the open area around Institut for (X), an independent non-profit culture and business platform for young designers, musicians, artists, entrepreneurs and craftsmen.

Large drawing studios and spaces with double-height ceilings characterise the different storeys of the new school, which offer access to roof terraces that accentuate the building’s terracing. The entire ground floor is dedicated to activities to which the public has access, such as the auditorium, canteen and the library. The workshops are also located here, where students can experiment with shapes and materials.

New Aarch
New Aarch

A raw architecture laboratory

The school’s architecture is characterised by high ceilings, exposed materials and technical installations as well as industrial details that fit in with the school’s raw urban surroundings.

“The School of Architecture is designed as a laboratory for learning and architecture, both inside and out. The simplicity of the design is a considered response to the school’s need for functional basic spaces,” says Martin Krogh, founding partner and architect at ADEPT, which was responsible for designing the Aarhus School of Architecture’s new premises.

According to him, the spatial and transparent architecture will pave the way for experimentation, communities and synergies:

“The finished building provides an opportunity to experiment with new ways of teaching tomorrow’s architects, while at the same time giving the school a clear spatial identity in line with its ambition of being one of the best architectural schools in Europe. The new building is perfect for showcasing what the students are doing, just as its spatial organisation and interior transparency make all the users of the building aware of the activities and daily goings-on. The architecture also encourages communities and synergies.

The school’s rector, Torben Nielsen, describes the new building as a “raw architectural laboratory”, because NEW AARCH is designed as a simple and raw physical environment that invites creative passion from the students.

Simple and robust materials

The decision to include upcycled material solutions was made at an early stage of the construction project. One example is the block flooring, which is made from surplus materials from window production. Concrete, glass, wood and steel are recurring materials, chosen on account of their robustness, but also out of a desire to create a simple building with as few material resources as possible.

“A small material palette reduces the need for material resources for the construction, and local production and transport chains have been used where possible. Concrete has been chosen as the optimum solution to the school’s need for large spans and hard-wearing facilities. The team behind the project worked closely with the concrete manufacturer to minimise the consumption of materials during the construction phase while maximising the use of recycled aggregates in the concrete,” says Martin Krogh from ADEPT.

 

Versatile acoustic solutions

Troldtekt acoustic ceilings, which are made of Danish wood and cement, are another example of the use of locally sourced raw materials. In the large open spaces and drawing studios, square Troldtekt acoustic panels have been installed. Troldtekt in natural grey was chosen, as the grey colour of the cement matches the concrete throughout the building, while the wood in the acoustic panels has a softening effect. In the enclosed spaces in the concrete cores, black-painted Troldtekt acoustic panels have been chosen.

“We chose Troldtekt because of its simplicity and versatility. The solutions are perfect for rooms where peace and quiet are needed for concentrated study or work, but also in high-ceilinged and complex soundscapes,” explains Martin Krogh.

Troldtekt ceilings create visual coherence between the rooms, while their sound-absorbing properties ensure optimum acoustics. Inside, the raw steel and concrete surfaces are finely balanced with warmer wooden materials, such as the Troldtekt acoustic panels, windowsills, cross-cut timber floors and the beautiful mezzanine library 16 metres up.

>> Read more about the school here and explore pictures

New Aarch

Facts about NEW AARCH

  • 12,500 square metres at Exners Plads near Godsbanen in central Aarhus.
  • Executed by a team comprising ADEPT, the Danish Building and Property Agency, Triconsult, Steensen Varming, A. Enggaard A/S, Vargo Nielsen Palle, Rolvung & Brøndsted Arkitekter and Lendager Group.
  • In October of 2021, the school organised a number of events to celebrate the move to the new building. On 4 October, the school’s birthday, the new building was officially inaugurated. in the following days the school hosted the Opening Architecture Festival together with an open-house event for all of Aarhus.
  • The school library is open to the public.