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Architectural Spotlight

Ørestad College


Ørestads Boulevard 76, DK-2300 Copenhagen S

3XN has shot another bit of news our way this past week, Ørestad College has been nominated for the 2009 Mies van der Rohe Award.  The firm issued a press release explaining the purpose of the building and provides an explanation on the firm’s portfolio.

Ørestad Gymnasium (upper secondary school) creates a framework for cross-disciplinary and an extended use of IT-based learning by revolutionizing educational space in a structure without traditional classrooms With a profile of media, communication and culture studies, and providing wireless Internet and laptops for all students it soon got the knick-name “the Virtual Gymnasium.”


Four boomerang shaped storey decks rotate in relation to each other like the shutter of a camera. They form the superstructure; the overall framework of the college, and provide space for the college’s four study zones. Each zone is on one level, providing organisational flexibility, with the option of micro adjustment to create different spaces, learning environments and group sizes. The rotation of the storey decks projects a part of each deck into the high central hall. This part is the so called X-zone; a spatial expression of the colleges’ ambition to promote interdisciplinary expertise between study zones with physical and visual links.


The storey decks are open towards a central core, where a broad main staircase winds its way upwards to the roof terrace. The main staircase is the heart of college educational and social life; the primary connection up an down, but also a place to stay, watch and be seen. Three ‘mega columns’ form the primary load bearing system, supplemented by a number of smaller columns positioned according to structural requirement, not as part of a regular grid. As a result, each floor has few permanent elements and can be laid out and rearranged almost completely at will. The superstructure is supplemented by a series of newly developed ‘room furniture’, which accommodate the need for the flexible and temporary room arrangements and learning environments required by varying group sizes – from one on one to an entire cohort.


The rotated decks are mirrored in the facades. Due to their rotation, the decks create openings double- and triple high while drawing lines on the façade. As a rule, the glass is smooth with the deck fronts, but on each floor, one façade is withdrawn to create an outdoor space. These outdoor spaces are connected from ground to roof. In front of the glass facades, a series of coloured semi-transparent glass louvers can open or close to protect from the sun, while adding dashes of colour to the indoor environment.


Ørestad College was built in immediate continuation of new legislation in the Danish educational sector in 2005 and is an educational building remarkable for its complete absence of class rooms in the traditional sense. At present, the gymnasium is the most-applied-for in Denmark.


Best building i Scandinavia 2007
Nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2009
Forum AID Award 2008 for Best Architecture in the Nordic Region

The building is an intriguing take on an educational facility with its free form design and open concept. I must admit I find it a little hard to imagine what kind of classes could be held in this type of building.  I’m curious if it functions as a teaching area or if it functions as more of a study space.  As a student I would definitely enjoy studying in this type of building, but I also have to wonder whether noise from my fellow students would be an issue.  This building is a forward thinking design that reinterprets the way we look at study spaces.

If any of our readers has visited, or better yet attends Ørestad College we would love to hear what it is like to use this building! Send us an email or comment below!’



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