The Danish public school reform sets the scene for playful learning, in which teaching no longer takes the shape of one-way communication between teachers and pupils, but rather encourages varied and diverse learning methods in reading corners, on the playground and across different subjects. This requires that educational facility construction and architecture move in new directions.
“Contrary from a workplace, a school and a classroom should not shut out expressions from the outside world. Rather, it should be a place where inspiration and diversity is cultivated,” says Anne Iversen, civil engineer and PhD at the Henning Larsen Sustainability Department.
“Children should be offered the opportunity to sit on the window sill and enjoy a book in the spring sun. At the same time, it should also be possible to find a cosy and mysterious corner, in which it is possible to find shade from both light and outside expressions”, she elaborates.
In connection with the making of the design for the Frederiksbjerg School, which will be raised in Aarhus over the next couple of years, emphasis has been on daylight as a natural source of light, which is constantly evolving in intensity and direction. Specifically, graduation of window sizes has been incorporated in the design of the façade – wider at the middle, smaller on top and smallest at the bottom.
The wide window middles provide a panorama view of the outside life: The school’s green courtyard on one side, and the urban space on the other. The top windows ensure an even light that is drawn far into the building, while the smaller windows below create window nooks, in which the children can read and play. Similar façades have been implemented in the design of the day-care facilities at Saxtorphsvej 11 and the Umeå School of Architecture, much valued by the users of the buildings.
According to Jakob Strømann-Andersen, PhD and leading engineer with Henning Larsen Architects, it is possible to create façades that allow for an even and large amount of daylight to enter the building. However, it is not only the amount of light that is important.
“Educational facilities with such traditional façades indicate a lack of understanding of how the dynamics of light also influence how children experience colours, space and time, as well as their desire and ability to actively engage in learning,”, he says, and adds,
“Just as the reform of the Danish school system invites diversity in learning methods, the construction of educational facilities should also emphasise diversity in, for instance, light intensity, colour reproduction and the variation of daylight throughout the day”.