From old sports hall to Great Danish Bake Off baking school

Jesper Søvndal, a former Great Danish Bake Off programme contestant (2017), has bought an old school in Odder in East Jutland together with his blogger girlfriend. As part of the project, the old sports hall has been renovated to accommodate his new project: A baking school for happy bakers and cake makers.

Troldtekt cement-bonded wood wool panels ensure superior acoustics in school architecture
Photo: Helene Høyer Mikkelsen, architect Jens Dresling/Ritzau Scanpix

Jesper Søvndal was one of the contestants in the Great Danish Bake Off back in 2017. Since then, he has wanted to combine his love of baking with a dream of teaching – and why not throw a house purchase into the bargain? Together with his girlfriend Johanne Mygind, and her daughter Augusta, he is now moving into an old school in Odder. Johanne Mygind is the Danish blogger ‘Nutidens Mor’.

“The property was just what we were looking for. It has potential as well as a history. There’s something nice about it having been a school before, and now it’s going to be a school again, a baking school. In a way, the school building is coming full circle,” says Jesper Søvndal.

The baking school is aimed at children, adults and corporate clients – who can all learn to bake or improve their baking skills, whatever their level.

A creative space

Other families have lived at the property before, and so the new owners did not have to start from scratch to transform it into a family home. They live in the part of the building that used to house the teacher’s flat in the old days.

In their transformation of the sports hall into a baking school, the couple has worked with both colourful and playful elements. For example, different-sized rice paper lamps add dynamics to the room, while sprinkles and glitter galore for decorating all the future masterpieces fill a shelf unit on the wall.

“We want the room to make people want to go in and be creative. They should be in no doubt: This is about making cakes and playing with cake. But we also wanted the history of the sports hall to shine through. That’s why the original ropes still hang from the ceiling.”

More space to come

However, the transformation of the old sports hall into a baking school has involved some major renovation work:

“The sports hall was slightly run-down and needed both new windows and new flooring. As well as a kitchen and ovens, of course. I think that the result is absolutely wonderful in that a fine balance has been struck between being able to see that it used to be a sports hall, and then adding all the elements needed for a baking school.”

However, the floor is a temporary solution, as the renovation work is not completely finished:

“The plan is to knock through to a similar-sized room next door, which means that we can double our course capacity.”

Concentrated cake making

A classic sports hall is associated with lots of noise and, with 4.5-metre-high ceilings, can be acoustically challenging – especially if you have to focus on carefully tempering chocolate or decorating a beautiful cake.

“We chose Troldtekt acoustic ceilings because we wanted to be able to control the sound. The room was not acoustically brilliant, and so we wanted the noise to be absorbed in order to allow people to focus and concentrate,” he says, before continuing:

“My initial reservations were to do with the fact that acoustic panels can be quite institutional-looking because that’s what I grew up with. But having talked to Troldtekt and heard about all the various solutions they offer, I changed my mind. The panels are white and have not been installed in broken bond. They make a huge difference to the acoustics, and then they look great.”

Jesper Søvndal’s baking school will initially be offering courses for groups of 6-10 participants at a time in order to comply with all corona restrictions. Once the wall to the room next door comes down, it will be possible for groups of 20-25 to be taught.