Goodbye to long corridors
and segregated classrooms

And hello to open spaces, air, light and flexibility. Newly builtVildbjerg School is located in the town of the same name in Herning municipality in the centre of Jutland, Denmark. One year on, everyone is satisfied: teachers, parents and not least the students.

More than 600 students together with the head, some fifty teachers and about ten other members of staff moved into the brand new school in January 2007. The event was the result of a political and educational initiative and is now history.There was a need for a larger school adapted to a contemporary way of teaching. Renovation of the old buildings would have been too expensive and in any case quite inadequate. So the decision was taken to go for something completely new, and Kinnarps was given the opportunity of being involved early on in the project. “The environment is of great importance for what goes on in a school”, says OleVestenaa, the head. An attractive environment influences the aesthetic sensibilities of the students. A welcoming and wellrun school makes them appreciate it and eager to look after it, thus creating an upward spiral. I know that everyone is happy here, because we have run a series of surveys and held discussions on the topic.

Many schools in Denmark are already quite old. They tend to be large buildings with long corridors, segregated classrooms and a particular kind of furniture – traditional desks and chairs. When the decision was taken to build a new school, it was the beginning of a long process involving many discussions and considerable reflection. It was already obvious at an early stage that Vildbjerg would be an environment for the 21st century.That applied not least to the architecture. The school consists of a main building and three detached annexes. Interior design consultants from Kinnarps came in at an early stage of the project. Practically all the furniture came from the Kinnarps standard range, only in odd cases was it specifically customized. The school is financed on the basis of a public and private partnership (known in Denmark by the abbreviation OPP). In this case, a German bank owns the buildings and the school merely rents the premises. It remains to be seen how this arrangement will pan out in the long term, but it nevertheless assured a certain measure of economic security and the chance to go for quality during the building phase.

“Diet, exercise and mobility” are important parts of the school’s educational profile, which is reflected in its range of furniture. Instead of static benches, we see movable multifunctional units. Instead of confining teaching activities to classrooms behind closed doors, there are corridors and open areas; smaller rooms are surrounded by glass rather than impenetrable walls.The idea is to open up the school in several ways including out towards society. “Completely new buildings and contemporary furniture mean a different way of teaching.We now have room for all the different activities that take place in a Danish school in 2008. And it’s no less important to develop the students’ creative sides”, stresses Ole Vestenaa.

Lotta Jonson