The Children- and Youth Universe in Stigsborg

  • Architect

    Kjaer & Richter - a part of Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects

  • Client

    Aalborg Municipality

  • Collaborators

    Enggaard, COWI, Ekolab engineers, Arkplan landscape

  • Location

    Stigsborg Bygade 50, DK-9400 Nørresundby

  • Area

    16,000 m2

  • Status

    Expected completion in 2025

  • Competition

    1st Prize

  • Sustainability Certification

    DGNB Gold + Heart / Perceived sustainability

Children- and Youth Universe by the fjord

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

The Children and Youth Universe is the new focal point of the neighborhood and, with its unique location by the Fjord, can inspire experiences and learning about the fjord, nature, and outdoor life. The school also provides space for neighborhood functions with a communal kitchen, sports, workshop, and science facilities, supporting lifelong learning and contributing to meaningful community connections.

The building's design reflects a dynamic and bustling "city within a city". A prominent landmark on the Stigsborg Harborfront, defining both the Main Street, framing the School Square, and showcasing the Fjord and Stigsparken. The Universe rises in the new urban space as a structure in 5 stories with a continuous base containing community houses with a central square, music, communal kitchen, sports hall, and daycare. The school is organized as 'the small school in the large' to ensure the pedagogical desire for well-defined clusters for different age groups. The younger children thrive best in secure settings with small and sheltered spaces, while the older children move around more and can navigate a more complex spatial universe. The building reflects a 'stacked' functional diagram with clear spatial hierarchies, making the building easy to understand and navigate. The division into smaller units also supports the building's ability to be sectioned off and used outside of school hours. The school is designed with an external 'school path' in the form of large stairs and roof terraces, so the children move directly to the clusters' outdoor spaces on each floor. Learning environments are designed indoors and outdoors with robust and sustainable 'workshops' offering opportunities for practical learning experiences in close contact with nature. A spatial division into frontstage with public functions and backstage with learning environments supports a good balance between school and neighborhood functions, creating optimal opportunities for synergy and connections across user groups, while also creating safe and nurturing year group environments for the school's students.

Sustainability: The Children and Youth Universe is certified with both DGNB GOLD + HEART. In the project development, we have focused particularly on creating optimal indoor climate with differentiated acoustic environments and varied daylight exposure. Additionally, recycled bricks and CO2-reduced bricks are used in the base of the building. Overall, the building's program and the desire for a high degree of dual use of the Children and Youth Universe's facilities support an inviting and flexible house. Socially sustainable initiatives are thus a natural part of the house's DNA with an open frontstage zone on the ground floor combined with accessible workshops on the upper floors.

Excerpt from the judge's deliberation:

'The architecture of the building reflects a deliberate use of a range of phenomenological virtues that create architecture of high quality and works excellently both as a whole and in detail. The division of the building into a heavy and city-proximate base, designed with large seating stairs in several directions, combined with the composition of light superstructures, partially raised on columns, creates a well-composed whole that is perceived as a friendly and inviting figure.’

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