Gymnasium in Tórshavn

Annexed to Tórshavn stadion, BBP Arkitekter AS have designed a gymnasium which, seen from the outside, is set into and partly concealed by the natural surroundings. Inside, however, the building is comfortably spacious and colours and pleasant surfaces seem to facilitate notions of concentration and positive events.

Photo: Per á Hædd

The ground on which Tórshavn lies is extremely varied in character and the houses are very colourful. The landscape and the sky form a strong presence in this part of the world, and this is beautifully conveyed in BBP Arkitekter AS’ solution for the gymnasium. They won the project in a design-and-build competition on a select tender basis together with MTHøjgaard.

The building is situated at the short end of the football ground and therefore precisely defined with respect to size. The natural surroundings are such that the gymnasium entrance area is below ground level. You enter the building by two glass towers, from which you are conveyed down to a split-level storey – the gymnasium with adjoining changing facilities on the lower level and a balcony and café etc. on the upper level.

The building has been further integrated into the whole stadion area by constructing a stage on the roof facing the lawn. A musical stage can be attached to the building, and the artists can then use the top floor of the building as a backstage facility. The elongated façade in two storeys has been constructed in glass, a fine combination of clear and frosted glass depending on the activity behind. The element of variation in the façade is clever reference to the ever-changing skies above. BBP Akitekter AS have been involved in several projects in Tórshavn, one of which is town planning.

Troldtekt in colour

The design of the gymnasium is very simple, but also very rational and flexible. Another important key word is transparency. The gym itself lies below ground level while the changing facilities, meeting rooms, technical facilities and social areas are positioned along the façade by the lawn, here and there allowing daylight to filter through to the gym area. On the upper floor balcony, there is an uninterrupted view of the entire gymnasium. The rooms are separated by glass walls thereby avoiding any obstacles to a full and free view of the gymnasium. The gym facilities include apparatus work, rhythmic gymnastics and a pit. Once again, with their point of departure in the activities of the place, the architects have used the red shades of the gym equipment to achieve the warm shades of the interior decoration.

Acoustic quality and robust materials have played an important part from the very beginning, which is why the architects opted for Troldtekt acoustic ceilings. The ceiling surface, made with Troldtekt panels in the colour natural wood, sets a warm and friendly tone while adding an optimal acoustic feel to the room. In this case, the architects have opted for square edged acoustic panels. The gymnasium wall has a single row of Troldtekt panels in various shades of red: a spectacular detail encompassing both functionality and architecture.

Lise Sehedsted, architect and partner at BBP, says, "The panels were spray-painted in situ and it was a real success". She also expresses her enthusiasm for the Troldtekt lighting used e.g. in the gym, ”It’s great that old-fashioned suspended light fittings in a gym are no longer the only option, but you are actually able to maintain a smooth ceiling surface with integrated lighting". The gym itself has been fitted with transverse light fittings while the circular ones are perfect in the corridor areas.

Carefully considered architecture

Gyms are often icy, echoing and not particularly welcoming places. In this case, however, careful consideration has been given to the function of the room. The room positively encourages activities and social interaction with its warm shades, transparency, tactile materials and comfortable acoustics. The wall behind the red-shaded acoustic wall cladding is not white, but a warm shade of grey, and the linoleum floors on the balcony are red, creating a perfect visual coherence between the red gym apparatus and the acoustic wall.

The choice of colours, materials and transparency within a strict and functional framework conveys a positive impression of a modern gymnasium where you can focus on your particular purpose in peace and tranquillity irrespective of whether you are a spectator or a performing gymnast. BBP Arkitekter A/S count numerous cultural or sports-related projects among their references, all with particular focus on the potential of a place, its function, and the use of quality materials.