Back to school...

Monday 08 Sep 2014

...with a colourful new campus by Henning Larsen Architects in Kolding, Denmark

On 28 August, the doors to the University of Southern Denmark (SDU): Kolding Campus were opened to students for the first time. Designed by Henning Larsen Architects for the Danish Building & Property Agency on land donated by the municipality, the unusual 13,700 sq m building is the result of a design competition won by the well-established firm back in 2008.

WAN was fortunate enough to visit the new building as part of a press trip in August before it was fully brought to life by Kolding’s student population. During the tour, Josefine Lykke Jensen from Henning Larsen Architects educated the group of international journalists on the merits of the project, from the immense levels of natural light which bathe the interiors and can be controlled by perforated steel shutters, to the multiple open-air terraces with green walls for interaction between peers and colleagues.  

Over 2,500 students will use the SDU campus in Kolding with many studying the Humanities or Social Sciences. The university building will also be a base for 60 admin staff and 109 full-time teaching staff, each of whom has been provided with an easily-accessible office to encourage closer connectivity with their students. This arrangement falls in line with recent changes to Danish legislation which states that teachers must remain on-site during the school day, enabling students to meet with their tutors, in turn enhancing their academic studies.

On entering the SDU campus, visitors are met with a grand atrium space, warmed through with textured wood panelling and shots of bright colour. Here, students can meet with their friends or tutors in an informal setting, or the space can be rearranged to cater for formal events. At the rear of the atrium is the entrance to the main auditorium where lectures take place.

Rising through the building on its generously-sized staircase, one is met with cosy sofa pods for reading or quiet social interaction, foliage-rich terraces, and glass ‘meeting rooms’ for more formal study and group work. All of these spaces are lit by a blend of LED lighting and vast quantities of natural light. The volume of penetrative light is controlled by the building as the façade is fitted with a solar shading system complete with sensors that continuously gauge the light and heat levels, then adapt to the conditions mechanically to maintain a comfortable working environment.

The solar shading system comprises 1,600 triangular perforated steel shutters which, when shut, lie flat against the façade. As the sun moves across the sky, so the façade shifts into a 3D structure with perforated panels projecting outwards. Henning Larsen Architects also worked in collaboration with German artist Tobias Rehberger on the façade design. Rehberger created a colourful artwork as part of the exterior centred on the theme of ‘time’. It is hoped that the school building will bring new life to the city centre.


Client: The Danish Building & Property Agency
Architect: Henning Larsen Architects
Landscape architect: Arkitekt Kristine Jensens Tegnestue
Engineer: Orbicon

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