Architect(s) : BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group
Address : Svanemøllevej 87, 2900 Hellerup, COPENHAGEN, Denmark
Latitude/Longitude : 55.73062382179043,12.573510919269827
Photographs : Iwan Baan | Jens Lindhe
Area : 1100 m²
Text description provided by the architects. The Gammel Hellerup School just north of Copenhagen is a well-preserved piece of architecture and a good example of building on a human scale. BIG was asked to design two new buildings, a new multi-purpose hall and a new arts building for the growing school. The challenge was to develop a masterplan and architectural design for new buildings that met the school’s changing need while respecting the traditional architecture.
The roughly 1,100 m2 multi-purpose hall and the latest two-level arts building provide the students with generous spaces for social and creative unfolding, while increasing the capacity of the school in response to its growing popularity.
The first phase of the project was a large multi-functional space for physical activities, graduation ceremonies and social gatherings. BIG placed the new hall 5 m below ground in the school’s courtyard.
The shape of the roof is based on the formula for a ballistic arc drawing its signature curve from the physics of a handball being thrown.
Above ground, the hall’s softly curved roof doubles as an informal meeting place. The edge of the roof is designed as a long social bench, perforated with small windows to let natural daylight flow into the sports hall below.
After the opening of the sunken sports hall swept under the carpet and the resulting stronger presence in the neighborhood, Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium became the most sought after high school in the district.
At night, the furniture doubles as lighting. The echo of what happens beneath becomes the unanticipated invitation for the life above.
The two-level arts building provides the students with generous spaces for social and creative unfolding. Located between the school’s multi-purpose hall and adjacent football fields, the new arts building connects the sports areas with the gymnasium’s existing facilities in one continuous flow.
By placing parts of the new building beneath the football fields, the students are able to walk through the sunken sports hall at the center of the school’s courtyard, to the classrooms, cafeteria, and out to the main entrance at street level.
Construction materials and finishes known from the multi-purpose hall are integrated in reverse – where the sports hall is a sandwich of wood above and below with walls of concrete, the classrooms are the opposite – wooden walls spanning between concrete surfaces above and below. The continuity and repetition of the materials creates a coherent visual identity for the school.
The new facilities situated underground form the roof of the new arts building, extending the football fields into a green carpet for informal activity and to serve as informal seating overlooking future sporting events.
Contributed by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group