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Learning from Denmark

More than 200 architects, contractors and representatives from schools and county councils came to participate in the very successful ‘Learning from Denmark’ conference 17 June 2009 at Kings Place in London.

The delegates came to learn about cutting-edge school-design paradigms from nine Danish architectural companies, each with many years experience within the sector. Organised by the Royal Danish Embassy in London, the event managed to bring together some of the most prominent figures in the sector, from the UK and Denmark including Sir John Sorrell, chairman of the Sorrell Foundation, and Russell Andrews of Partnership for Schools. 

After the morning’s speeches the nine participating Danish architectural companies conducted a series of workshops, highlighting different aspects of the Danish school building experience and specific projects, such as the acclaimed Ørestad College and the groundbreaking Hellerup School, the school without classrooms.

The conference attracted media attention in both Denmark and the UK, being featured in mainstream newspapers and industry journals (see right). In all, ‘Learning from Denmark’ was a resounding success, a productive experience which not only managed to bring together key members of the industry from both countries, but which also facilitated a dynamic two-way learning experience for the Danish companies conducting the workshops as well as the British delegates participating in the event.

Below are descriptions of the workshops conducted during the conference:

Ørestad College (3XN)

A study in the blend of pedagogy and architecture, Ørestad has shown the importance of transforming education – new ways of learning and new ways of teaching in an ICT advanced school of the future.

Educational Architecture – the Scandinavian tradition (schmidt hammer lassen)

Educational architecture in Denmark reflects the wider Scandinavian tradition for democracy in the workplace, based on a particular view of society that embodies values of welfare, openness and equality.

Building for education – the evolving brief and architectural response (C.F. Møller Architects)

C.F. Møller Architects has been at the forefront of developing designs for educational institutions through many decades, always responding to the ever evolving pedagogical ideals.

SKUB – Rethinking ways, methods, roles and processes in School Development (Grontmij | Carl Bro)

Saying goodbye to traditional working methods and project management virtues – and hello to learning processes and values as the driving forces in redesigning schools, we open our minds to new ways of imagining children’s learning processes.

Schools with innovative learning environments – how to make visions, architecture and function come together (KHR Architects)

Building a new school should be a process that starts with listening to the users, getting to know the local area and integrating the newest research on learning into the design.

Daylight, energy and indoor climate (Rubow Architects / Harresoe)

Daylight has a proven positive effect on children's learning abilities; the use of daylight in schools is therefore of vital importance for learning and comfort, so is the indoor climate. The use of renewable energies and building of low energy buildings is also of vital importance.

Hellerup School – How architecture becomes the 3rd teacher (Arkitema)

Hellerup School was the central new building project in the Gentofte SKUB project. Designed in an open interchange with staff, students, parents and community this innovative building integrates a modern approach to teaching and learning with the building itself.

How to make a spatial interpretation of learning concepts – following the Scandinavian tradition
(Holscher Architects)

The design strategy combines the rational and consistent learning space with the more playful and differentiated space thus creating a flexible environment for learning. The aim of the design strategy is to link the specific learning concept to the spatial hierarchy and to the identity of the school.

Absalon School in Holbæk (Erik Møller Arkitekter)

The Absalon School was built in 2005 based on the winning project in a closed turnkey competition for a new public school. From the very start the headmaster of the school and the teachers were deeply involved in describing the pedagogical vision and how the school would implement new learning processes and methods.


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