A town within a town

It’s a long way from the austere school buildings of the past to today’s playful architecture for learning.

Troldtekt, Skovbakkeskolen
Photo: Thomas Mølvig (architect) & Adam Mørk

The primary and lower secondary school Skovbakkeskolen in Odder in East Jutland is like a town within the town, with a ‘market square’, streets and spaces for concentrated work and play. The rooms blend into one another, and everywhere you look there are interesting new angles and views. It is a very lively building, shaped as four platforms on two levels, with a large communal area as a central focal point.

The original Skovbakkeskolen in Odder was built in 1956, but over the years gradually became modified beyond recognition. Moreover, the traditional classrooms with their static spatial organisation along long corridors had become outdated. To embark on yet another renovation project was a short-sighted approach given the new and stricter requirements which have been introduced for teaching and well-being. Odder town council therefore decided to build a brand new school as a public-private partnership project, and the winning project was presented in summer 2015.

CEBRA architecture won the competition together with the construction and civil engineering firm  MT Højgaard and the property management company DEAS Ejendomsudvikling. Now, after two years, the school has long since been taken into use, while finishing touches are still being put to the daycare institution Krible Krable Huset. At the same time, the last of the old school buildings have been demolished, much to the delight of the 650 pupils who have watched the work at close quarters.

Pitched roofs and beautiful shades of grey
CEBRA’s architectural signature is recognisable from both the exterior and interior. The building is friendly and welcoming despite its scale, which is largely attributable to the facades having been broken down into distinct units in different shades of grey and with pitched roofs. All the windows are positioned to create a dynamic composition, which the untrained eye will perceive as being random, but which is obviously carefully planned. At certain points, the building projects outwards, and wood-clad sections add a dash of warmth to contrast with the otherwise cool grey facades.

The school’s large communal area and the busy walkways presented a considerable acoustic challenge. In some places, very high ceilings and massive sloping surfaces are juxtaposed at dramatic angles. The solution was to install white Troldtekt acoustic panels, which both visually and acoustically ensure a wonderful sense of calm in the ‘public’ zones.