Læringshus Nærheden in Høje-Taastrup – a new take on learning spaces

The doors have been opened to a brand new school which integrates an ECEC institution as well as communal parking for the new residential district NærHeden in Høje-Taastrup just outside Copenhagen.

Photo: Helene Høyer Mikkelsen, architect Jens Dresling/Ritzau Scanpix

Læringshus Nærheden, an early childhood education and care (ECEC) institution and school, is at the heart of the new residential district Nærheden. The building is characterised by openness towards its surroundings, inviting curiosity and engagement.

The lower floors of the building – the ‘front stage’ – house its open functions, which are for use both by the school and the whole neighbourhood, including a sports hall, library, makerspaces and science functions.  From here, large internal stairways lead ‘back stage’ – to the upper floors and the learning areas.

All zones have direct access via the building’s external structure to more than 4,000 square metres of roof terraces connected by stairs and laid out with covered outdoor workshops as well as play areas.

The distinctive feature of the complex is its open structure, which is apparent in everything from its overall architecture to the classrooms. The oldest age groups are taught in completely open rooms, while the youngest pupils have more conventional classrooms with doors in glass window sections. All in all, the school’s modern architecture is characterised by visual transparency and openness between the activities, which helps drive the institution’s pedagogical approach based on 21st- century learning skills: Critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. 

Tranquillity and materiality in flexible spaces

The different levels are connected by a broad staircase and longitudinal skylights. This creates a natural centre on each floor, where a number of open spaces are arranged in the flexible structure. The architects therefore decided that the floors and ceilings should be unbroken, calm surfaces. The choice of Troldtekt ceilings has resulted in superior acoustics and a pleasant indoor climate.

According to Thomas Nørgaard, an architect and partner at Christensen & Co., the acoustics have been key to the choice of materials. In addition to Troldtekt acoustic panels in natural wood throughout the school, additional bass absorbers have been installed above the ceilings as well as perforated sinusoidal cladding on both the facades and inner walls:

“Troldtekt in natural wood produces a calm, warm and inviting look in the building and contributes fantastic acoustics that challenge the conventional view of learning spaces as being enclosed by four walls with a floor and ceiling – Nærheden is the future.”