Læringshuset Nærheden

  • Architect

    Kjaer & Richter - a part of Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects

  • Client

    Høje-Taastrup Municipality

  • Collaborators

    BAM, Christensen & Co. Architects, Oluf Jørgensen Engineers, 1:1 Landscape

  • Location

    Skolebakken 1, DK-2640 Hedehusene

  • Area

    15,500 m2

  • Status

    Completed in 2021

  • Award

    Special Mention - AR Future Projects Awards ’Civic & Community’ (2019), Nominated – Danish School Building of the Year (2022)

  • Competition

    1st Prize

The school as an active learning tool

This project is designed by Kjaer & Richter - a part of Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects.

Høje-Taastrup Municipality's new district Nærheden has received a state-of-the-art five-track Learning House with open neighborhood functions. Through a dialogue-based process, we, together with teachers and educators, have developed a new concept based on the municipality's 'Pedagogical and Architectural Program', where architecture serves as a platform for a strong learning culture built on authentic and project-based learning.

The Learning House is a reinterpretation of the traditional primary school and accommodates daycare, primary education, middle school, upper secondary education, and many public amenities such as cafeteria, assembly rooms, workshops, and sports hall. The architecture reflects the pedagogical vision of seamless transitions between age, subjects, and teaching methods and offers a plethora of opportunities to exhibit projects, experiment with materials and models, and engage in physical activities on stairs and climbing routes. The building consists of an open grid structure with fluid transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces and a 'living' facade with external stairs and rooftop terraces leading to the students' decentralized entrances. The floors are interconnected by the Learning Loop - a unifying atrium that fosters connection and visibility between the various learning environments.

The Learning House is divided into Frontstage with shared functions on the ground floor and Backstage on the upper floors with more secluded learning environments. Learning environments are divided into clear physical sections for the youngest and oldest students, targeting the needs of each age group for secure and manageable settings for the youngest and more flexible and open spaces for middle and upper secondary education. Decentralized staff facilities are provided in all sections to ensure visible adults close to the children. The Learning House's numerous workshops are designed with robust materials/furnishings and great transparency and opportunity for exhibiting student work. This way, the different activities are visualized to each other and can inspire new collaborations and learning experiences. Frontstage is characterized by spacious assembly and cafeteria areas focusing on creating active zones and secluded environments, allowing many activities to take place side by side. The pedagogical organization supports the goal of intelligent square meters and minimal building footprint by consolidating related functions, activating flow zones, external access routes/stairs, and inherent spatial flexibility - both in the short and long term.

Sustainable Initiatives By strategically placing hot water at selected locations, energy consumption is reduced by approximately 40% on the building's calculated energy consumption for heating hot water. The building is ventilation-cooled with water vapor, reducing resource consumption for operation by a factor of 1/10 compared to conventional cooling. This has overall reduced the necessary insulation of the building equivalent to 100 T CO2 during construction.

Excerpt from the jury's deliberation:

'The main approach allows for a changeable scenography, making the building itself a learning tool. The common areas encourage PBL by allowing preparation as a group, withdrawal for individual immersion, but also the possibility of joint presentations around a staircase, the Learning Loop. It is assessed that this best supports the pedagogical vision of the program.

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