Henning Larsen’s eco-based School Design
Designed with an eye on sustainability and eco-innovations, this rural school extension in Denmark is a striking model for a carbon-neutral future. Planned by Copenhagen-based architecture firm Henning Larsen, the project’s aim was an architecture that captures more carbon than it emits. Occupying 250 sqm (2700 sq ft), the structure is made almost entirely of wood and straw and proudly marks the studio’s most ambitious project to date. The scheme is designed to accommodate science classes ‘for a generation that will come of age with the weight of the climate crisis’.
‘We know that we cannot wait for policymakers to push the green agenda, we must face the weight of our design decisions headfirst, altering our practices, bettering ourselves, and pushing our industry. Thinking critically about the production line in its entirety, we have shown that quality and function are not compromised by using fewer resources. Straw is a fast-growing renewable resource and a byproduct of agriculture; a great alternative to producing new materials.’ mentioned Jakob Strømann, Director of Sustainability and Innovation, Henning Larsen.
all images Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST
Healthy & sustainable education space
This project redefines the standards for sustainable architecture and seeks to act as a stimulus for the future generation and educate community members committed to creating a more sustainable world. The structure celebrates sustainable architecture without compromising practicality and aesthetics. Utilizing mostly renewable materials as viable alternatives to concrete, brick, and steel, the resulting design sequesters rather than emits CO2, generating a great indoor climate.
The architecture team joined forces with the Danish philanthropic organization, Realdania, and EcoCocon to develop a pioneering climate-neutral structure. A massive gable roof made solely of timber tops the building, which uses a panel system made of compressed straw and a ventilation system made of eelgrass. The latter is a common seaweed found along seashores in the Northern Hemisphere.
According to Henning Larsen Architects, they created a design framework with planetary health in mind, following five ambitious principles: incorporate sustainably sourced, renewable, bio-based materials to sequester carbon; reuse of local materials to save resources and energy; employ materials that are free of toxic chemicals; provide a healthy indoor climate, ensuring natural ventilation and lower energy consumption; design for disassembly, for the reuse of building components in the future. By applying these principles, they successfully reduced the structure’s footprint to 6kg of CO2 per sqm per year, with an expected lifespan of 50 years.
Certified locally produced timber and untreated plywood make up the roof, the inner walls, and the built-in furniture.
The natural materials infuse the interior with a warm, welcoming atmosphere. This material selection eliminates the need for large ventilation ducts or suspended ceilings, making the rooms spacious and high-ceilinged. The building’s natural and passive ventilation systems reduce energy consumption for operation. Solar panels are set on the roof to further lower the demand for external sources.
The permeable nature of straw and the air filters of eelgrass allow humidity to escape creating a self-managed interior climate. Following the principles of a circular economy, the whole structure is easily disassembled, reinstalled, and reused, while its parts can be recycled in the future.
‘With Feldballe School as a testing ground for integrating novel solutions, we are already in the process of scaling this model up for a 13,000 m2 project. With an agenda that extends far beyond the site’s 2700 square feet, our work
on Feldballe School acts as a guide, not only for ourselves but for others in confronting our industry’s carbon emissions across the value chain. The result of this is a new aesthetic language that goes far beyond simply pleasing the eye or being grand in scale, it is lined with social and environmental responsibility, and more importantly, an impactful offering to both,’ explained Jakob Strømann.
integrating bio-based materials in the construction
creating a home for the education of future leaders