Gul Stue – a place for local young people to meet

When you live a long way from the nearest large town or city, creating a sense of community in your local village is essential – also for young people. The Gul Stue youth centre does just that. TV host and designer Søren Vester lent a hand to the project and ensured that yellow came to play a prominent role – even on the Troldtekt acoustic ceiling.

Sound-absorbing cement-bonded wood wool panels from Troldtekt are often used as acoustic ceilings in institutions for children and youth
Photo: Helene Høyer Mikkelsen, architect

In Sdr. Bork, a village just south of Ringkøbing Fjord in western Jutland, a group of local young people have renovated an old grocery store and transformed it into their very own youth centre. And as a special feature, everything is yellow – walls, floors, coffee cups – even the Troldtekt ceiling.

Twenty-year-old Marcus Ottosen is the young innovator behind the Gul Stue youth centre. He explains:

“I felt that the area lacked a place for young people to meet and feel part of a community, something that would make it even more cool to be a young person here.

The Gul Stue youth centre is part of the ‘Bedst mod West’ cluster collaboration, in which five villages in western Jutland work together to infuse more life and activity in the region. The idea of a youth centre received a lot of support – including financial support from philanthropic association Realdania’s ‘Underværker’ fund. Moreover, Gul Stue was even nominated for the Danish Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs’ ‘Landdistriktsprisen’ award 2020, coming third.

A much-needed gathering place

Marcus Ottosen began asking around to see who would be interested in helping to start up the Gul Stue project, and one who answered the call was 19-year-old Femke Streefkerk.

“All my friends had gone off to spend a year at ‘efterskole’ so it was great to be part of the project from the outset. We’ve needed a place for young people to meet. There was nowhere really to meet anyone from the other villages. Now we’ve already met a lot of people.”

Gul Stue is for all young people, and so far a homework café, board game evenings, a Friday café and Sunday fun days have been organised.

No adult help

In autumn 2019, the young people were handed the keys to Sdr. Bork’s old grocery store. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the renovation work ended up taking a little longer than expected.

The young people involved spent hours after school, work and weekends renovating the space and basically did all the installation work themselves – including extra insulation, new floors, the Troldtekt acoustic ceiling and furnishings.

The project has been heavily supported by the local community.

“People brought us food, and tools were donated. Others let us use their trailer. And many people have dropped by to see all the progress. There’s is a lot of local support and that’s what’s unique about living out here,” says Marcus Ottosen.

Help from a DIY celebrity

Designer Søren Vester, a familiar face from interior design TV programmes, has followed Gul Stue from the beginning and also came along for a working weekend.

“I was brought in to help the young people create a meeting place. The idea was not to go for a ready-made solution, because the creation process itself is as important as the final result. For the young people, the project was a chance to get to know each other, and they genuinely enjoyed themselves in the process,” says Søren Vester, adding:

“I’m so impressed with their ‘finish’ and their whole approach. Electrical wiring was hanging out of the walls of the old grocery store, and the floor was full of holes. They’ve transformed it into something positive and a place where you want to spend time. It’s about being part of a community, one that grows from them and for them.”

An acoustic ceiling was essential because of the many people who come together in Gul Stue and also due to the hard floors. And so the old grocery store was fitted with a Troldtekt acoustic ceiling donated by Troldtekt.

“Under expert guidance, we’ve painted the acoustic ceiling yellow to match the overall theme. It has made a huge difference to the acoustics. The sound is much better now, and it’s not tiring when the young people gather in different zones and start talking,” says Søren Vester.

Yellow – the colour of community

It was Søren Vester who came up with the crazy idea of painting everything yellow.

“He suggested it for fun, and at first everyone laughed. But now it’s become the concept, and we have pretty much taken ownership of everything yellow in the area. When people see something yellow, they think of us,” laughs Marcus Ottosen, adding:

“In fact, the only thing that isn’t yellow is the felt on the pool table.”