The new school - Bråtejordet skole - is situated in Strømmen, an old industrial town around 20 km northeast of central Oslo and considered a part of Greater Oslo. Strømmen has its origins in sawmills along the local river and, later on, in heavy industry. The school is built on top of sloping farmland, right next to an old farmhouse. It is the first building in what will be a new housing area and east of the school there will be a new kindergarten. The view over the surrounding open landscape is one of the main qualities of the site.
The client wanted a school with a hundred year life-span and copper provided a long-term facade solution that combines a living material, developing its beauty over time, with the feeling of a lightweight box hovering over the plateau. The pre-oxidised copper box’s impact is reinforced with matching dark window frames and sun shades, and also by the returning copper soffits above the entrance opening. While the dark box blends with the landscape, it contrasts with the interior, which is bright with a white terrazzo floor forming the plateau.
The ‘green roof’ - covered with Sedum planting to collect water - is formed from a series of wedge shapes, maintaining a low height but avoiding snow and rain problems. It incorporates a number of long rooflights, providing natural lighting to the main space and stairs, as well as adding to a sense of connection with the outside. Together with the distinctive roof forms, the corrugated copper façades are also contextual, connecting with the old industrial sheds of Strømmen. But even more important is the way the copper reflects light as students are welcomed by the north-east façade glimmering in the morning sun.
The competition project was called “Rammer og Nivåer” or “Frames and Levels”. Our design concept was centred on a clearly defined spatial hierarchy. This sequence from larger to smaller provides the structured teaching environment required by the teachers and headmaster. It defines clear spatial thresholds:
YARD - between the town and the school
A vegetated ‘filter’ with trees of different heights defines the school yard. Passing through this filter you leave the town and enter the school. The density and height of the filter is adjusted to the view and surroundings. The yard itself is divided into ‘fields’ – referencing the agricultural landscape - serving different functions, including social spaces close to the building and sports and play further away. The building is located near the road, distancing itself from the old farm and also sheltering the yard from road noise. The angled building shape also creates a warm and sheltered micro-climate in the yard.
PLATEAU - between ground level common areas and upper level units for each grade
The entrance is on a plateau, two meters above the new road, creating a level change as you enter the building. Various specialist rooms – including workshops, studios and the library – and administration areas form an angle around the school yard and the central space. This central space acts as the entrance, meeting and assembly hall, as well as the canteen. This space is extrovert, public and transparent - connecting with the schoolyard to the south and views to the north, and defined by full-height glazing, differentiating it from the upper level: the box.
BOX - between the units
The classroom level is a raised, introverted copper box. Inside there are different spaces for study, work and concentration, again forming an angle around the main space. The three different grades are located in each corner of the building and every grade has its own area with a teacher’s room, distinct social space and separate stairs down to the entrance level. Every classroom is connected to a smaller room for working in groups, as well as a toilet, so that students do not have to leave the teaching area: one of the programmatic demands of the competition.
ROOM - and between the classes
All the classrooms are orientated north, avoiding direct sunlight but with views over the surrounding open landscape. This is where students and teachers spend much of their time, so most of the classrooms have high ceilings following the angular roof, as well as concrete walls, giving them a spacious and distinctive character.