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The A.P. Møller School, Slesvig, Germany

Tuesday 05 May 2009

The Danish approach to education design

Copyright C.F. Møller 
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Clarity surrounds design for A.P. Møller school in northern Germany 

As the WAN Education Award winner is announced, WAN Award panel member Julian Meyer highlights the Danish approach to educational building design with the A.P Møller school. Designed for a Danish-speaking minority in the northern German province of Slesvig, the school provides a lesson in transparency and clarity.

The A. P. Møller School is structured around two large, central elements, one containing common areas with a canteen, reception hall and ‘knowledge centre’ on three storeys, and the other being a larger sports and multi-purpose hall with three courts. A large, sloping roof connects these elements.

While German teaching practices typically employ traditional individual classroom based exercises, Danish school reform encourages democratic and differentiated teaching with several types of individual and group work taking place at the same time and two way exchange between teachers and pupils. To allow for this, the school functions with a very simple architectural flexibility where learning can take place in all areas from the classrooms through to the informal break-out spaces creating an open forum and social integration through the design.

Large open spaces combined with high quality materials of brick, solid wood flooring, glass balustrades, acoustic wood veneer paneling and a copper roof, instill a sense of community and pride, deterring vandalism and encouraging positive interactions.

The impact of environmental conditions on learning is considered in the design with ventilation and lighting innovations which also maintain the school’s responsibility to the environment. Natural ventilation, in the form of a hybrid system, is used for all classrooms, laboratories, staff offices and auditoriums. The building takes advantage of the tall atrium surrounded by through-lit classrooms to create the combined stack and cross-ventilation with optimum utilization of the driving force of natural wind and thermal dynamics to save 30% in operating costs.

Hear what Julian has to say about education design in our exclusive podcast

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