Lessons in transforming education

08 Feb 2010

Orestad College focuses on student interaction, social spaces and opportunities to learn from each other

Orestad College is the first secondary school built in Denmark after the introduction of the secondary school reform with its added emphasis on strengthening and improving students’ academic proficiency, giving students an active responsibility for their own learning, creating a better springboard for them to move on to university and higher education programmes, and increasing the focus on science subjects.

The building was designed based on 3XN’s belief that architecture can shape behavioural patterns. Its open, flexible spaces permit a high degree of interaction that generates a better ambience for working and learning, encouraging students to take active responsibility for their own learning process and their collective working environment. The design brief was worded to avoid reference to the traditional spatial layout. For this reason the competition phase was focused on the interpretation of space and the intentions behind the reform. Orestad College is the result of a research based design process – a journey towards a physical structure to support the visions of knowledge sharing, interdisciplinary co operation and competencies. The overall vision was to combine large, open spaces with a high degree of familiarity and belonging on a smaller scale. It is a functional working environment – yet there are plenty of nooks and crannies for relaxation and contemplation.

The building consists of four boomerang shaped decks which overlap in incremental rotation. The four study zones are accommodated on each their level with a spatial layout that caters for varying learning environment needs. The central staircase is the heart of the college’s social and work / study life; the primary 'highway' up and down through the building and also the place to linger – for seeing and being seen. The open spaces are supplemented by sections of innovative 'space division furniture', making it possible to create flexible, temporary spaces and learning environments for any size of group.

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