The new senior high school became the beating heart of the entire community

Of all of the pupils now embarking on the autumn term some are to be envied more than others. That is because they are going to start at a completely new senior high school, which they have been personally involved in designing. The resulting new building is something much bigger and more important than just a school. For Upplands Väsby, it means that the community has been given a completely new heart.

Some major structural damage was detected when the old Vilunda senior high school was about to be renovated. White was entrusted with investigating new-build options and convinced the politicians of the advantages of constructing a new sustainable building. The brief was extended to cover the planning of the entire Messingen district. Suddenly it was all about something much bigger than a senior high school. It was closer to being a cultural centre in function.

The architects from White have been doing a thorough job. While focusing on sustainability issues, the question was also asked – what is it that makes a school attractive? A survey was carried out, in which pupils and staff from several schools were interviewed about the way the built environment should contribute to the power of attraction.

“We did our homework very carefully,” say Klara Frosterud and Hans Forsmark, the responsible architects at White for the Messingen building. “Unlike conventional school building projects, we have tried to think in a multifunctional way at all levels, to create a real meeting place at which many of the school’s activities can interact with the needs of the community.”

After study trips, workshops and strategic discussions a picture emerged in which the senior high school adopted the form and role of a cultural hub in Upplands Väsby, a meeting place that accommodates schools, library, cinema, sports facilities, music school, theatre, restaurant, café and facilities for political and conference activities.

There is also a demand for varied environments that provide opportunities for various styles of teaching. The solution became “team facilities”, in which both teachers and pupils have their own workstations. The restaurant is used by the schools during the day but is also prepared to be able to accommodate the municipal council meetings.

The school’s new location means that the building will be the starting point for transforming a former industrial estate. White was given the brief of producing a detailed plan for the entire Messingen district and also to design the proposed residential district and to shape the external environment.

Upplands Väsby wants to move from being a suburb to being modern small town. The new senior high school is a cultural hub and a profile building that signals the vision of the future.