Green is the colour of hope

One of the very best schools in Denmark has been renovated so that the buildings now reflect the high teaching standards.

Troldtekt Soender Omme school
Photo: Thomas Mølvig, architect

A few years ago, Sønder Omme School in Jutland was a slightly dusty version of a typical primary and lower secondary school from the 1960s. Red brick walls and infinitely long corridors with a slight smell of packed lunches and liver pâté. In 2008, an initiative was taken to modernise the school buildings. The vision took account of the Danish government’s imminent school reform, and minimised the number of corridors.

The architectural competition which was held in 2012 was won by Grønne & Jessen from Varde, and the design won broad backing for the project. The Municipality of Billund allocated DKK 40 million for a process which involved renovation, demolition and new construction. Now, stepping inside Sønder Omme School is a completely different experience.

Sønder Omme School, which is located next to the town’s church, has about 300 pupils, and is an important focal point in the local community. In March 2016, the school was named the third best school in Denmark. Just a month later, the ‘new’ school was inaugurated, which in addition to extensive renovation work included the addition of a brand new assembly hall – ‘Valhalla’ – as well as an architect-designed playground.

Colours as an architectural effect
The facades of the new building are clad in expanded metal, resulting in a much more positive energy around the school complex than previously.

On entering the school, the impressive ceiling height is very noticeable. As is the impressive building volume with its attractive vistas and plenty of room for all manner of activities. The next thing you notice is the bright green ceilings and walls in the large, central assembly hall ‘Valhalla’. All the elements appeal very strongly to the senses. The ceilings are clad with brightly painted Troldtekt acoustic panels, which are installed with screws and without visible profiles. The green colour continues on a high wall, which connects the existing school building with the new extension.

The school’s service manager Per V. Nielsen succinctly sums up people’s attitude to the new school: “We’ve dispensed with the long corridors and many of the stairs. Everything is much easier now. When the carpenters started installing the Troldtekt panels, my first thought was: ‘They’re rather green!’, to put it mildly. Now I’ve grown used to them, and they liven everything up amongst all the white and grey.”

In the classrooms and in the pre-school section, Troldtekt acoustic panels have been used in a more traditional and subdued way. Here, the architects sought to achieve a more neutral visual effect, but still based on the sensitive balancing of the various materials.