Herningsholm Vocational School, in Denmark

The new Herningsholm Vocational School asserts itself as an independent building in an existing campus cluster of educational buildings.

The school is designed inside-out – with a focus on the creation of optimal learning and study environments – as well as outside-in, in relation to the surrounding context where welcoming urban spaces provide possibilities for outdoor work and teaching.

The building takes into account that our behavior and thinking is shaped by the physical environment we are in. The form of the learning environment – the architecture – has a significant impact on the student’s daily learning processes, and is therefore designed for modern and democratic principles.

The building is an angular layout that brings together three building volumes under a sloping roof, which in scale responds to the surroundings by dropping from three floors furthest south to two floors in the far north. The angular building creates three new out-door urban and learning spaces in conjunction with the neighboring buildings: The Plaza, the study garden and a front garden.

The Plaza becomes an important destination that brings together the surrounding institu-tions and users. The Plaza incorporates greenery in the form of two large cracks in the poured concrete; merging the urban scale with the human scale. In dry weather, the tri-angulated depressions offer seating in the green. During rainfall, the recesses act as natural infiltration and retention basins to relieve the sewers.

To the west, around existing trees, a quiet green garden space called study garden is formed, for learning, reflection and contemplation; while to the south a more semi-public space front garden is established with direct access from the classrooms on the ground floor.

An incision into the building volume towards the Plaza produces a dramatic architectural idiom for the school. The roof overhang forms a covered outdoor space, which mediates the transition to the lower buildings to the north, and clearly highlights the school’s main entrance and “shop fronts” on the ground floor where the various educations and their work is made visible.

The learning spaces that are the building’s backbone are organized around a unifying common space that also serves as a flexible learning environment. The learning spaces are grouped 2 and 2 so as to create direct access to the common space from all learning spaces in the school.

The building is designed for general use, and the learning spaces are designed so that the physical environment supports and matches varied, flexible and contemporary learn-ing principles. Built-in seating / study niches in the facade brings quality to the spaces, and inspires alternative, more unconventional uses. Mobile furnishings can quickly trans-form the learning space for various teaching situations.

The common study spaces also offers varied physical environments to work in, from the double-height rooms facing the garden, suitable for workshop-like uses, to a student café space for informal gatherings of students, to dedicated study corners of quieter and more intimate character – and each individual learning space in itself is designed for numerous setups and spatial uses.

The facades are differentiated by orientation, showcasing how the constructions, sustain-able initiatives and installation principles are fully adapted and integrated with the archi-tectural concept: The glazed facades feature integrated niches and deep reveals that provide shading for the facade architecture, which plays on gravity and ease using mas-sive pre-fabricated fibre cement facade panels in combination with tall, bronze-anodized perforated aluminum shutters which add warmth and variation to the composition.

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