Feldballe School, building for future generations and the planet
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Feldballe School, building for future generations and the planet

Realized in wood and straw, the school expansion aims to be a model for larger buildings, becoming a concrete response to the climate crisis

Henning Larsen

Feldballe School, building for future generations and the planet
By Editorial Staff -

The style is traditional Nordic architecture, but the primary materials, on the other hand, deviate from the usual canons. The expansion of the Feldballe School, in Rønde, Denmark, was constructed almost entirely using natural materials like wood and straw. Henning Larson did not compromise on this project, excluding brick, steel, and cement. In their place, there are sustainable materials free of chemicals and capable of removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than what the building emits through its operations. The eco-sustainable mindset of the designer is oriented towards future generations, who will suffer the most severe consequences of climate change and who will be called upon to solve the subsequent crisis. In rejecting canons and traditional materials, the building becomes a model capable of inspiring new ways of construction. The expansion of the Feldballe School is a happy experiment, an example demonstrating how the quality and function of architecture are not compromised by using fewer resources.

The 250-square-meter building is very simple in its architectural design: recalling the buildings of the local tradition, it is composed of a single-level volume with a sloped double-pitch roof, a back porch, and a glass corridor that serves as a link to the pre-existing school. The entire structure is easily disassembled and reusable, offering flexibility, easy maintenance, and the possibility of being reinstalled or recycled for other buildings.

For the design, the team of architects adhered to five principles: the use of sustainable and naturally sourced materials, the use of already available local materials, the use of substances free of toxic chemicals, the reduction of energy consumption in the building’s operations, and the possibility of disassembling the structure, allowing for the reuse of its components in the future. The expansion of the school met all the design objectives, following ambitious sustainability criteria.

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Natural and recyclable materials

Feldballe School, Henning Larsen ©Rasmus Hjortshøj - COAST courtesy of Henning Larsen

The structure, realized with the support of the Danish philanthropic organization Realdania, and implemented with the collaboration of the company specializing in straw building systems, consists of precompressed straw panels, an entirely wooden roof, and a ventilation system made of Zostera, a marine herbaceous species typical of the northern hemisphere of the planet.

The precompressed straw panels act both as a load-bearing structure and as the building’s infill, forming a system that can be adapted to a wide range of constructions; the certified local wood roof is composed of untreated plywood panels. This material is also utilized for the interior walls and for part of the built-in furniture. The permeability of the straw allows moisture to escape: the clay walls contribute to surface breathability and to the mechanical ventilation (minimized given the low requirements) and integrate the Zostera filter systems. The solar panels on the roof complete the framework of systems rendering the building highly sustainable. Additionally, the materials utilized give the environment a refined aesthetic, with a façade that fits perfectly into the local context with warm and inviting interiors.

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Location: Rønde, Denmark
Architects: Henning Larsen
Completion: 2022
Client: Feldballe School
Build up area: 250 m2

Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj - COAST courtesy of Henning Larsen


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