Växjö Fria Gymnasium (Växjö Free School) has moved to new premises at ICON Växjö in Arenastaden. The location is ideal given the athletics background of the school and proximity to the arena will also mean better training opportunities and closer collaboration with the athletics clubs in the area. After it became clear the old premises were no longer suitable, relocation meant the school got to have their say on the new premises and create the school they wanted.
"We believe that pupils do better in a calm and safe learning environment"
Växjö Fria Gymnasium is using many different versions of the Frisbee stool - including low and high, turquoise and black. Frisbee is a simple and flexible stool that is to hand when you need it. We furnished the school's laboratory experiment room with Frisbee stools upholstered in black artificial leather, which makes them easy to wipe down. In the school's corridors, you are never far from a Frisbee, providing extra seating if you need it.
In terms of shape, the Avant bench is a bench and table in one; a clever design that offers several seating options. Pupils can either sit and lean against the backrest, use it as a table or as extra seating. With its two upholstered seat units, it is a fantastic bench to have in corridors. How you use the bench is only limited by your own imagination!
Every classroom has many users over the course of one day and needs to provide a suitable space for all of them. Xpect is a flexible chair that is ideal for the school environment. Furthermore, Växjö Fria Gymnasium has chosen to have a flex function in the back of the chair, giving it a certain springiness and encouraging the pupils to move a little, which helps them to concentrate over the course of the school day.
Växjö Fria Gymnasium aims to provide every pupil with the conditions in which to develop and meet their own goals. To do this, the school has to provide them with a working environment that is both safe and calm for studying.
When the old desktop PCs were changed for laptops at the school, the school's working environment needs also changed. As fewer rooms were needed for work, as were fewer computer rooms, they wanted instead to invest in a varied working environment in which the pupils themselves can choose how and where they sit. At the new premises, the school has the space and option to create the conditions for a more creative and flexible way of working that challenges and motivates the pupils. With the open-plan solution across four floors, linked up by a large staircase, together we have created the varied working environment that the school was striving for.
The school is based on a very open atmosphere in which teachers and pupils interact with one another – even in the corridors. To encourage even more openness, the school has prioritised having many different types of environments in the corridors. Private study areas, spaces for group work or spending time together and large town square-type areas for larger or multiple groups are all provided. The running theme for all of these is the openness between them. The school chose to limit the number of closed rooms to ensure the open atmosphere is maintained and encouraged. In the shared spaces, they built small rooms that have three walls that open out on to the corridor. There are also benches built on site here with a few Frisbee stools or Jig chairs to provide peace and calm when studying individually, as well as a large number of sofas built on site that create homely hangout areas.
Växjö Fria Gymnasium also chose to invest in openness for its classrooms and offices. Large glass partitions along corridors mean that you can always see what is going on, but also provide some privacy for important conversations.
Working together with a group of teachers and architects from Samrén & Månsson, the interior design process began by creating a vision of what was needed. This vision was then used as the basis on which various interior design companies submitted their suggestions for the interior. It was at this point that our collaboration began.
Växjö Fria Gymnasium felt that Kinnarps was the company that catered for the vision best and listened to what was important to them. We proceeded to work together to develop the proposal and find solutions suitable for the school. We shared our experiences and combined Kinnarps' knowledge of interior design in public spaces with the school's own experiences of day to day life there, with a view to finding a solution that would work in the long term.
The sober colour scheme chosen by Växjö Fria Gymnasium means that the school has a slightly more 'grown-up' look than many other schools. The dominant materials and colours here at the premises are light-coloured wood, grey-scale and a deep turquoise for accentuation. Certain pieces of furniture have more of the colour accentuation, which breaks up the otherwise sober look. Inspiration for the choice of colours came from universities and office environments and the desire to create a space that would allow the pupils to feel more adult.
Växjö Fria Gymnasium chose to have upholstered furniture in the corridors and the shared spaces, partly to give it a feeling of homeliness, but also because the school felt that the pupils were mature enough to have that. By working together closely and listening to each other, we have collectively managed to create a nice and also safe learning environment for Växjö's pupils.