Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium (Bjarke’s old high school), with its distinctive yellow brick buildings from the 1950s, is a good example of a high school building on a human scale. The school was lacking a large, multifunctional space for sports activities, social gatherings and graduation ceremonies and thus decided to build this new multi-purpose hall in the school courtyard.
The main design challenge was to create a new multi-purpose hall serving as the school’s main sports facility in the courtyard, without filling the courtyard with a new building. The solution was to place the sports hall 16 feet below ground, tying together the high school above and below ground. BIG’s idea of an underground building keeps the courtyard intact while minimizing shading on the surrounding buildings and ensuring a good indoor climate. The hall is designed with cast-in-place concrete walls and a distinctive soft curved roof formed by a series of unique curved glulam beams that take are spaced to ensure access to daylight. The curve of the roof is formed by the formula of a ballistic arch, an ode to Bjarke’s former math teacher, who is the current principal of the school and thus our client. Form follows formula!
This roof creates a new hilly schoolyard—the “molehill,” an informal venue that can cater to multiple activities. The edge of the roof has been dubbed the “social bench” by the students and is perforated with apertures to ensure the penetration of daylight, creating an airy feeling despite being below grade. Outside, white enamelled steel benches with integrated LED lights designed by BIG are installed on the multi-purpose hall's oak-covered roof. The new hall creates an underground connection between all of the existing facilities of the high school and thus becomes the centerpiece of the high school.
Partner in charge: Bjarke Ingels, Finn Nørkjær Project leader: Ole Elkjær Larsen Team: Kamilla Heskje, Tobias Hjortdal, Thomas Juul-Jensen, Høgni Laksafoss, Jan Magasanik, Enea Michelesio, Dennis Rasmussen, Michael Schønemann, Narisara Ladawal Schröder, Agnete Jukneviciute
Collaborators: General Contractor: CG Jensen Engineers: EKJ Electricity: H. Helbo Hansen A/S