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Aarhus School of Architecture / ADEPT

Architect: ADEPT
Place: Aarhus, Denmark
Year: 2021
Photographer: Ramus Hjortshøj
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Inspired by 21st century learning principles, the new School of Architecture was designed this year in Aarhus,
Denmark, as an incubator for architectural experiments, workshop-based learning and unplanned synergies between students.

The structure, designed by the Danish firm ADEPT, is raw, almost resembling an industrial building, but only at first glance, as the refined detailing and strong spatial organization deliberately communicates how a building is constructed: how to refine a design through a few carefully selected materials, to allow architecture to abandon any form of protagonism and to step into the background as a flexible framework for activity.

Designed by architecture firm ADEPT as a laboratory for learning and exploring architectural design methods, the new Aarhus School of Architecture is located at a 12,500 sqm former railyard site with traces of its industrial past.

As a tribute to the environment and to the nearby Institut for X – the non-profit cultural and economic association founded in 2009 on the initiative of the citizens – the new building is characterized by its exposed industrial details, materials and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The intentional simplicity of the design is a detailed response to the school’s need for large, functional and robust spaces. Tall and compact on the side facing the street, the building is characterized by a series of large glazed terraces sloping down towards the area of the former railway yard. The building, whose identity matches the ambition of being one of the best architecture schools in Europe, is open, thanks to the transparency and the spatial organization, both to the outside and to the inside, making the different studio activities visible to the public as well as to all the students.

The new Aarhus School of Architecture, which brings togetherten former locations into one single building, fulfills the dream of having a robust structure, a living laboratory of architecture. Inspired by the idea of a laboratory – Martin Krogh, partner at ADEPT, explains – we have designed an antiicon workshop-like building, an empty canvas made for ideas, creativity and learning.

The design allows interior and exterior spaces to blend, not only through literal transparency, but also by questioning what the school space and what the city space is. This means – Krogh adds – that both the surrounding urban environment and the curricular activities will shape the building in the future.

Completed with design-integrated solutions aimed at maximizing the spatial flexibility, the structure was built with a limited range of materials, mostly recycled, which allowed a substantial reduction in the construction resources.

Conceived to reduce the energy consumption up to 50% compared to the sum of the former locations, the new building has been designed through co-creation in an innovative partnering model and shows an alternative direction for cross-disciplinary collaboration in the building industry. The design is based on extensive user and neighborhood involvement and basically eliminated internal hierarchies in the project organization to promote a transparent
development process and a strong ownership at all levels of the partnership.

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