New era for Sønderlandsskolen

Sønderlandsskolen has much in common with many other schools in Denmark. The first buildings were constructed in about 1950, with several extensions being added in different stages right up until the 1980s, when the school comprised a motley collection of buildings which were no longer in tune with modern pedagogical visions. Something radical had to be done, and in 2012 it was decided to merge two other schools in Holstebro and rebuild Sønderlandsskolen.

Troldtekt, Sønderlandsskolen
Photo: Thomas Mølvig, architect

It has been a complex process transforming the sympathetic but outdated architecture into one of Denmark’s most modern state primary and lower secondary schools. The firm of architects Kjaer & Richter managed the project in cooperation with Søren Andersen Arkitekter and Rambøll consulting engineers. Their efforts have borne fruit, and in autumn 2017 the doors opened to a new era in the school’s history.

Schools within a school
One of the main innovations is that the playground has been relocated to where it’s light – up on the roof. As the architects put it: “You could say that the building grows out of the ground, and takes hold of the surrounding outdoor areas with stairs and ramps, culminating in a recreational roofscape high above the town’s rooftops.”

Indoors, ‘Torvet’ (the square) is the school’s dynamic and pedagogical focal point. Among the free-standing high-backed furniture, children can immerse themselves in their studies, either alone or in groups. A large circular skylight visually connects the floors, and there is direct contact to the multi-purpose hall which can be integrated with Torvet in a matter of minutes. Troldtekt acoustic panels in natural wood with a fine structure have been used in Torvet, the open areas and the classrooms.

“Troldtekt panels were chosen because of a desire for rustic and durable ceilings that tie in well with the brick, wood and concrete which have been used throughout the school. Moreover, a good acoustic indoor climate was an important parameter when choosing the ceiling system during the planning stage,” says the architect Hanne Pedersen, MAA.

Ensuring that pupils feel comfortable, safe and secure are key in such a large school. Therefore, the building is composed of smaller units. Each year has its own entrance, and considerable efforts have been made to create niches for relaxation and play. At the same time, there is a high degree of transparency in the building. Both between the interior and exterior environments, but also between the corridors and the classrooms.