Client projects: Amerikanska Gymnasiet

Project facts

Client:
Amerikanska Gymnasiet

Locations:
Sweden: Gothenburg, Halmstad, Stockholm Stora Essingen, Stockholm Campus Frescati Hage, Uppsala

Total area:
16 000 m2

Number of students: 
1 415

Learning spaces for brave students

The physical environment is crucial for how well the school’s vision and the students’ full potential can be realised. That’s according to Peter Heddelin, CEO and one of the founders of Amerikanska Gymnasiet. He has drawn inspiration for the school’s learning spaces from a long and close collaboration with Kinnarps – with a focus on preparing students for life after graduation. 

Peter Heddelin has extensive experience from the world of schools, both from municipal and private schools. When Amerikanska Gymnasiet was founded in 2015, he and the other initiators had a clear vision of what they wanted to create – a calm school environment that shapes creative and brave students for the modern, global labour market.

“We strive to take the best from the Swedish school system and combine it with things that the American school system is good at, such as encouraging students to believe in themselves, dare to think big and go outside their comfort zone. In order to succeed, we make high demands of our learning environment,” he says.

One thing that the school attaches great importance to is making speeches and rhetoric, speaking to others and practising presenting knowledge or ideas to their peers. Another is to have clear and functioning guidelines for what applies to times, behaviours and expectations. In the school’s own words regarding its structure, “ramar och kramar” (frame-work and hugs) are required to create a calm and safe working environment. 

“These values must be supported by the physical environment, for example we work a lot with soft furniture, textiles and green plants to stimulate focus and concentration. Our measurements show that 98 per cent of students at our five secondary schools feel that they have peace of mind at school,” says Peter Heddelin. 

Stool Plint, table Oberon and chair Leia.

Another fundamental idea is that the learning space should be varied and customised to different activities and needs. There are many different learning situations during a school day, and the physical environment needs to support teaching, learning, focus and security in all of them. Kinnarps inspired the division into zones used by Amerikanska Gymnasiet.

“I came into contact with these ideas a long time ago, probably over ten years ago, when I attended a lecture held by Kinnarps. It stuck with me and I have  been in discussions with Kinnarps about these issues for many years. Basically, it’s about customising the environment for varied learning, because it always gives the best results,” says Peter Heddelin. 

At Amerikanska Gymnasiet, this has resulted in a concept that is divided into four different learning spaces – the traditional classroom, active learning classroom (ALC), homebase and office. In the traditional classroom, teachers teach in the classic manner, but the rooms are also equipped with displays and cameras so that even ill students can partake in lessons from home. ALC is a more active room where students are grouped into stations with the teacher in the middle. The furnishings are suited for working on joint problem solving, debates or presentations. 

“Homebase is a shared workroom for students and teachers and perhaps the space that is most clearly inspired by Kinnarps. This is where students go to work before, during and after the school day. And because the staff is available, it is a natural area for cooperation and asking questions,” says Peter Heddelin. 

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Armchair Frame, coffee table Fields, sofa Gino, coffee table Cassia and pouffe Fields.

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Meeting table Vagabond and stool Stack.

“You need to map out the needs, ask yourself what you want from the operations, formulate a vision and then involve both staff and interior designers in a dialogue.”

Peter Heddelin, CEO, Amerikanska Gymnasiet

Finally, there is the “office”, which is a meeting room aimed to mimic the spaces that students will encounter in their working life. These rooms can be booked for group-work lessons, but also be used as a creative space for projects and planning after school.

“We want our students to be given the opportunity to train skills and knowledge that will be in demand in the future global labour market, regardless of whether they choose to work in Sweden or abroad,” says Peter Heddelin. 

A particular challenge in furnishing the Amerikanska Gymnasiet’s premises is that the school is located in five different locations. Its culture and interior design must be reflected in all the schools. To keep the concept cohesive and facilitate the process, the school has had a single contact person at Kinnarps who is responsible for all the schools. 

“It’s important to me, we work closely and have got to know each other during the course of many years, so that we can easily put ideas and suggestions forward. I know what we want to achieve and what our visions are, but we need the help of interior design experts to make our goals tangible and become reality,” says Peter Heddelin. 

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Table Oberon and chair Neo Lite.

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Table Origo, desk screen Vibe and chair Leia.

Anders Larsson, learning space strategist at Kinnarps, remembers the first meeting with Peter Heddelin, several years before Amerikanska Gymnasiet came into being. He has followed the school’s journey.

“These operations live their values every day, and it’s great that we get to co-create with them. I have visited the schools several times and am always impressed by how well the vision has been realised. Together, we have created solutions and spaces that support teaching and learning in a long-term sustainable way,” he says. 

Peter Heddelin does not hesitate in calling the physical environment one of the school’s most vital and crucial pedagogical tools. He believes that the key to success is to take that insight seriously. 

“You need to map out the needs, ask yourself what you want from the operations, formulate a vision and then involve both staff and interior designers in a dialogue. I dare say that the interior design can be like night and day, depending on the conditions it provides for students and staff. With Kinnarps’ help, we will continue to be the best at offering a varied and stimulating learning environment.” 

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