Folk high school with bold contrasts

Roskilde Festival now has its own folk high school - the first new general folk high school in Denmark for 50 years. Naturally, it is located in Roskilde’s creative urban district Musicon, next to Museum Ragnarock.

Troldtekt cement-bonded wood wool panels ensure superior acoustics in school architecture
Photo: Roskilde Festival Højskole. Helene Høyer Mikkelsen, architect

The former cement factory Unicon has now been transformed into a folk high school. The vast, empty hall offered the potential and the freedom that are at the core of the ideology of Roskilde Festival. The existing concrete complex has been renovated, while its natural patina continues to lend an air of authenticity. The building has been opened up with large window sections and skylights, and with a pleasant distribution of light in the huge rooms.

Troldtekt acoustic panels have been used on the ceilings in the hall, which works well aesthetically with the industrial architecture. At the same time, the panels ensure superior acoustics in the expansive space. In stark contrast to the concrete structure, 16 large boxes in different colours and materials have been introduced into the complex. They are all placed in the main, eight-metre-high hall that houses the canteen and other communal facilities. The boxes are used as classrooms and workshops, and also house a lecture hall and a dance studio. From the dance studio, which also has a Troldtekt acoustic ceiling, visual contact has been created with both the communal area and the creative district outside. 

Folk high school in creative urban district
The conversion of the former cement factory was inspired by Roskilde Festival, which is very much driven by its humanitarian focus and creative energy. The folk high school is situated in the creative urban district Musicon, where the accommodation for students and teachers at the folk high school can also be found. The style is industrial with a temporary feel. Neighbouring the school is the incredibly eye-catching Museum Ragnarock. Like the folk high school, the museum was designed by COBE Architects and MVRDV.

“As a former folk high school student, for me converting an old cement factory into a folk high school, which will be shaping future generations of students, has been a very special project. By opening up the building and adding a number of new boxes inside the original structure, the complex has been given a new lease of life. A dilapidated industrial building has been turned into a budding hub for creativity and people coming together,” says Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE Architects.

COBE Architects and MVRDV won the competition for the ‘ROCKmagneten’ area in 2011, which in addition to Roskilde Festival Folk High School also includes the Ragnarock Museum for Pop, Rock and Youth Culture, which opened in 2016, the Roskilde Group’s head office as well as a master plan for developing the surrounding area.