White beat off competition from some of Norway’s leading architectural practices to design Kongseik Ungdomsskole in Tønsberg, Norway’s oldest town. White has created a building that gives the impression of a creative village instead of a traditional school.
Presterod Skole in Tonsberg was White’s first school commission in Norway. The client, Tonsbergs Kommunale Eiendom, was very satisfied and invited White to participate in a competition for one additional school. This time the teachers played an active part in the creative process, working with the architects and having the school’s headmaster as project manager.
Kongseik Ungdomsskole is a senior level school in which tuition has moved away from the traditional philosophy of classes – instead, the 360 pupils work in what are known as “bases” with 60 pupils in each one. The school’s personality is large and generous, without the strict format which can make a pupil feel somewhat replaceable.
The site is located in beautiful, undulating countryside with an estate of private houses as its nearest neighbour and a large meadow in the other direction. The close proximity to the residential estate inspired the solution – quite simply, they created four more “villas”. The many small house blocks mean that the light comes in from several directions, giving a sense of a creative village instead of an institution.
The main part of the school consists of three buildings that are linked by two pedestrian bridges, which mean that all of the rooms can be reached from the inside. The façade is finished in minerite, which is a thin sheet of fibre cement joined together to give a more vibrant impression. The façade is consciously grey – the pupils themselves are to be responsible for any splashes of colour and decor in the form of themselves, their identity and their style.
- Client: Tønsbergs Kommunale Eiendom
- Project Start/End: 2003-2006
- Completed: 2006
- City: Tønsberg
- Fredrik Källström
- Birgitta Carlsson
- Åsa Haremst