European School Copenhagen: A Vibrant Space in a Historic Site

NORD Architects | Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects

Architects: NORD Architects and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Area: 14000 m2
Year: 2018
Photography: Adam Mørk and Hampus Berndtson

The new European School Copenhagen adds vibrant spaces to the historic brewery site Carlsberg City in Copenhagen.

Tucked between Copenhagen’s historic Carlsberg buildings, a new public school recently opened for around 900 students with international backgrounds. Designed by NORD Architects and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects, the European School Copenhagen is a new international school that promotes modern learning landscapes whilst merging school and city together through open public spaces.

The European School Copenhagen has a multicultural reach, supported by the city of Copenhagen and distinguished Danish international companies. The international perspective of the school is embedded in the local district of Carlsberg City, with several architectural landmarks and a long history as an industrial brewery site.

International School in a Historic and Local Environment

 The historic surroundings set the outline of the new school amid the existing building mass at Carlsberg. The site is an attractive neighbourhood with outstanding and historic architecture, founded in specific functions – and which reflects a fascination with decorative brickwork.

“The European School Copenhagen is integrated into the living history of industrial architecture and an era characterized by entrepreneurship and a challenging vision underpinned by science and education. The new school builds upon this tradition and cultural heritage – deployed as a new interpretation in its own time,” says Morten Gregersen, partner and architect at NORD Architects who designed the school together with Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects.

The two offices won the competition in 2015 in a team with the constructor BAM Denmark and EKJ Engineers.

“With respect to the historic surroundings, we have maximised school space and created an open, modern and vibrant learning environment – not only for the students but for the whole community. Everyone is welcome to use the school grounds. It was crucial for us to create a functioning school that simultaneously interacts with the area and this extraordinary historic site,” says Thomas West Jensen, partner and architect at Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects.

Social Interaction through Learning Stairs and Spaces

The school’s learning spaces are centered around two major learning stairs that run vertically across the five floors and unite all the classes and age groups. The learning stairs are multifunctional recreational spaces, as well as teaching areas for larger or smaller groups of students. They also provide visual contact and coherence between the different zones and spaces across the classes, highlighting the canteen as a central and social gathering place.

The European School Copenhagen is integrated into Carlsberg City as part of a new urban landscape without hard borders between school and city. The sports hall is part of this intermediate zone, which is connected to the roof landscape that spans different levels with recreational spaces, activities and playgrounds.

The relations between the institution and the city become a ‘win win-situation’ where spaces, functions and square meters are shared, thus creating a social, sustainable utilisation of valuable urban areas.