The sound of change

If you haven’t visited the Aarhus suburb of Gellerup in the past ten years, you will be struck by how much it has changed. The neighbourhood has been totally transformed, and the grandiose architectural vision from the 1960s has been upgraded to a new – and person-centric – version 2.0.

Photo: Thomas Mølvig, architect MAA

Several large blocks of flats have been demolished, and in their place a new and undulating urban park has been created, together with student accommodation, entrepreneurial environments and a municipal powerhouse – Blixens – with 1,000 employees.

A new library and a new community centre are located on Karen Blixens Boulevard, and linked to a new purpose-built activity centre via the World Square. The vibe is clearly international, and the scale both impressive and engaging. Sports and Culture Campus Gellerup will become the true heart of the district  when, in a couple of years’ time, it will be extended with a new swimming pool at a cost of DKK 250 million.

Contrasts around a square

Basically, the campus currently comprises three very distinct buildings situated around a central square. The library and community centre has wooden facades, and is a very open and inviting building with strong ties to its surroundings. Walking past, you can see what is happening inside, which is a very good idea when you want to encourage new people to participate in the numerous activities. The large communal space is a multi-purpose room featuring Troldtekt acoustic panels in natural grey – on both the walls and ceilings.

The activity centre to the south comes across as being more introverted, with large, smooth aluminium facades. However, through individually positioned window sections it is possible to glimpse the enormous climbing walls, the main attraction for Aarhus Climbing Club. The building also houses attractive training facilities for Circus Tværs, where children and young people can walk in off the street and learn advanced acrobatics. To the east are the games pitches, the urban park and the swimming pool.

In the activity centre, Troldtekt acoustic panels in blue, red and grey have been installed to give the room a sense of identity while softening the concrete walls. In the foyer, black acoustic panels have been installed on the ceiling, which go well with the transverse concrete beams and the artistic floor.


In a community as diverse as Gellerup, it is important that the new campus is a democratic place which is friendly, unpretentious and easy to move through, encouraging everyone to interact with other people from different walks of life.

Quote: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects