Following their colorful spirit, the Dutch MVRD joined forces with the Danish office COBE to design a school in Roskilde Denmark. The site includes the school, housed in a former concrete factory, two new blocks of student housing, a building housing the school’s staff, and a strip of adaptable shipping-container-based structures that will host an ever-changing group of innovative startups—many with connections to music and youth culture. These newly completed buildings act as the back-up singers to the “lead singer,” the neighboring Ragnarock museum for pop, rock, and youth culture completed in 2016. The new construction provides rhythm and energy to complement the museum’s singular charisma.
The Roskilde Festival Folk High School is closely linked to the world-famous Roskilde Music Festival that temporarily turns this small town on the outskirts of Copenhagen into the fourth-largest city in Denmark. The school is an example of the Danish system of folk high schools that provides a non-formal adult education through the concept of lifelong learning. This system is based on the ideas of 19th-century Danish intellectual N.F.S. Grundtvig, who believed schools should educate their students to be active participants in society. Courses at Roskilde Festival Folk High School last between four to ten months. Students and teachers live together at the school to achieve a total, immersive education. The Roskilde Festival Folk High School is the first purpose-built school of this type to appear in Denmark in the last fifty years and aims to further the values of the Roskilde Festival through courses in music, media, leadership, politics, art, architecture, and design.
“Our design, just like the school itself, was inspired by the spirit of the Roskilde Festival. It is all about music, art, activism—but most of all, freedom. The Roskilde festival combines having a good time with innovation in an informal way, giving a special vibe that we wanted to capture in the design of the interior of the school.”– Jacob van Rijs, principal and co-founder of MVRDV
The school itself is housed in a former concrete factory, reusing the original structure’s columns and roof but replacing the walls and interior. The design is based on a box-in-a-box concept: colorful modules fill the warehouse-like shell of the main building, all arranged around a central spine cutting from one side of the building to the other. Alongside this route is a wooden tribune that acts as the communal heart of the school.
“For me, as a former folk high school student, it was a very special task to transform a concrete factory into a folk high school to shape future generations of students. By opening the building up and adding new boxes inside the old structure, we revitalize the building. A defunct industrial building has become a bustling hub for creativity and community.”– Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE
The boxes host a variety of different functions including an auditorium (named the Orange Stage in a nod to the main stage of the Festival) for 150 people, a music studio, a workshop, and classrooms for dance, art, and architecture. These functions are arranged into three zones: one zone hosts pursuits of the mind, including writing, thinking, debate, and leadership; another is focused on students’ use of their bodies, including dance and music; and the third zone hosts activities focused on the hand, including visual arts, architecture, and design.
The two blocks of student housing complement the character of the site with their simple, industrial aesthetic. They are constructed from modules of wood structure sheathed in metal, evoking the appearance of shipping containers. The two blocks are connected on each level by an external steel walkway. Inside, each student shares a room with one or two of their classmates, with rooms on each floor arranged around a bright communal space.
The Roskilde Festival Folk High School and its campus are the culmination of the 11,000-square-metre masterplan of ROCKMagneten, a district designed to create an inspiring hub for the flourishing youth culture of Denmark. The plan consists of the school, the student apartments, and the rock museum Ragnarock, which is an expression of youth culture with its striking façade of gold-colored aluminum. The outdoor space of ROCKMagneten will soon become a crucial informal meeting place for young people, especially in June during the annual eight-day Roskilde Festival.
The completion of the buildings marks the successful realization of a long partnership between MVRDV and COBE, who worked together on the design and realization of the Roskilde Festival Folk High School, the student housing, and the entire ROCKmagneten masterplan.
DATE: 2011-2019 / LOCATION: Roskilde, Denmark / AREA: 5.578 m2 (built) / PROGRAM: Roskilde Festival Folk High School (2.980 m2 + student and teachers’ dwellings 2.598 m2 ) / STATUS: built / DESIGN: MVRDV + COBE / MVRDV (Principal-in-Charge): Jacob van Rijs / MVRDV Partner: Fokke Moerel / EXECUTION TEAM (MVRDV): Aser Giménez Ortega, Julius Kirchert, Samuel Delgado / DESIGN DEVELOPMENT TEAM (MVRDV): Aser Giménez Ortega, Mette Rasmussen, Emilie Koch, Julius Kirchert, Mateusz Wojcieszek, Samuel Delgado, Gerard Heerink, Andrei-Docu Predescu, Kalina Pilat, Klara Andersson / COMPETITION TEAM (MVRDV): Klaas Hofman, Sara Bjelke, Rune Veile, Francesca Bechhi, Nas Alkhaldi, Sara Impera / DESIGN TEAM (COBE): Dan Stubbergaard, Thomas Krarup, Eik Bjerregaard, Caroline Krogh Andersen, Sonia Bom, Marine Pierson. Jens Kert Wagner, Mikkel Reedtz Morris, Christian Sander, Clement Bue Maali, Milan Milenkovski, Mads Lützen, Simon Engberg Christensen, Morten Andersen, Anis Souissi, Marine Pierson, Tenna Buus Rasmussen, Tamara Kalanajevska, Daniella N. Eskildsen, Jannis Bruns, Arvydas Gasparavicius, Gianluigi D’Aloisio, Jonas Snedevind Nielsen, Jonas Søndergaard / CONSTRUCTION: B. Nygaard Sørensen / CONSULTANTS: LIW Planning and Kragh & Berglund (Landscape Architects), Norconsult (Engineering Structure & MEP), COBE/MVRDV/Norconsult (Costing), Transsolar (Engineering – sustainability), Alectia (Engineering – Fire), Gade & Mortensen (Acoustics) / CLIENT: Bygningsfonden Roskilde Festival Højskole and the following client consortium:Roskilde Municipality, Realdania, Roskilde Festival Group, A.P. Møller Fonden and Knud Højgaards Fond. / PHOTOS: © Ossip van Duivenbode / © Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST