ODDER – CEBRA designs a village-like primary school intended for 650 students in Odder, Denmark. Complete with a series of plazas in the interior, playful fenestration, and pitched roofs, the students are encouraged to run freely throughout the building and rule the day.
The primary school replaces an existing school of the same scale that had gone through additions and extensions, ultimately turning into an architectural Frankenstein. The building is a series of four wings offset from one another - creating a staggered layout – interconnected by large common spaces designed around different themes: creativity, science, and sports.
Circulation remains central throughout the building, with the classrooms and administrative spaces all facing outward towards the landscaped exterior. According to Carsten Primdahl, founding partner at CEBRA, the school has a special focus on exercise as a natural part of daily life. The architecture follows this pedagogy. ‘For example, the fire access routes in the common areas are designed as tracks for exercise, in each classroom there is an area designed specifically for physical activity and the school's multi-gym is directly linked to the school's common room, allowing the gym to be used as an active play and movement area during breaks,’ explains Primdahl.
The pitched roofs are staggered as well and the negative space between them are generous skylights, lighting up the entire school and creating an incredible space in the central atrium. Minimal grey columns are placed playfully in this atrium, creating a forest of columns, even piercing through the informal wooden amphitheatre.
The buffet of spaces designed by the architects allow users and students to pick and choose the use based on their needs and moods. Small class? Small room. Pep talks? In the amphitheatre steps. The sky is the limit in how to use the building for the students.
Beige, brown, and grey are used for the colour scheme – a new example of bringing back beige as a solid colour choice for a soothing environment. The exterior is also a carefully landscaped heaven for students. The architects preserved many existing trees and used the few that were cut down as furnishings in the interior. The angular language of the building is countered by the radial and curvy language of the exterior playground and pathways.