Creating something out of nothing Central Copenhagen is tightly packed, leaving very little room for any kind of expansion. However, when a school in the centre needed more space, there was no way around it: they needed more space. Architecture firm NOVA5 stepped in to create an award-winning solution with innovative ideas and a brand-new building. By Josefine Older Steffensen | Photos: Tom Jersøe
Situated in the heart of Østerbro, one of Copenhagen’s oldest neighbourhoods, Vibenshus Skole needed 12 new classrooms for 300 extra students. “This posed a bit of a problem, as there was little to no space to expand on. Inner city schools have limited space and Vibenshus Skole, which is made up of an old, grand school building, a gym and administration building from the 1980s and a playground, is no different. But this is definitely also what makes being an architect exciting: it’s about finding solutions when there don’t really seem to be any,” explains Thomas Dahl, partner at NOVA5. 66 | Issue 129 | October 2019
The Copenhagen-based NOVA5 are specialists in homes and educational and cultural structures. They are also specialists in making something out of nothing and pushing the limits of what can be achieved in a variety of projects, while also having a strong focus on creating sustainable solutions.
Creating space where there is none “We had to ask ourselves, how do we take space from the playground, which is already too small, without making it seem like there’s less space overall? That’s not always an easy predicament to have. How
do you do that without ruining what is currently there and what will be there?” asks Dahl. The solution that NOVA5 came up with was to use height. They took space from the playground to add a building connected to the building from the 1980s. But rather than leaving it as that, they used the roof of the building to create a new space where the kids could play. The roof became the place to play ball games and hang out. The new building connects to that from the ‘80s seamlessly, while also protecting the building from the environment. “This has suddenly become a central meeting place in the school, as people can more easily walk between the buildings and use the rooftop to relax and have fun,” says Dahl.