Roskilde Festival Folk High School

Roskilde Festival Folk High School

Architect
MVRDV

COBE
Location
Roskilde, Denmark
Project Year
2017
Category
Auditoriums

Secondary Schools

Cultural Centres
Stories By
MVRDV

COBE
Ossip van Duivenbode

Roskilde Festival Folk High School

MVRDV as Architects

Roskilde Festival Folk High School is the first newly-established and built folk high school of its kind in Denmark in 45 years, based on the ideals of the Roskilde festival. The ideals and values are very much influenced by the volunteer engagement, the humanistic focus and creative power, that every year forms and characterize the event and the community of Roskilde festival.


The Roskilde Festival Folk High School is closely linked to the world-famous Roskilde Music Festival, which every year 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, which deliver a “non-formal adult education” following 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 High School last between 4–10 months, with students and teachers living together at the school to achieve total immersion in their education. The Roskilde Festival High School is the first purpose-built school of this type in Denmark in 50 years, and aims to further the values of the Roskilde Festival through courses in music, media, leadership, politics, art, architecture, and design.


The full plan for 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 will now act as the backing group to the “lead singer” Ragnarock museum which was completed in 2016, providing rhythm and energy to complement the museum’s singular charisma.


“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,” says Jacob van Rijs, principal and co-founder of MVRDV. “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.”


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 upon a “box-in-a-box” concept: colourful 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 former concrete factory into a folk high school with the purpose of shaping future generations of students,” says Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “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.”


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: some host pursuits of the mind, including writing, thinking, debate, and leadership; others are focused on students’ use of their bodies, including dance and music functions, while 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, and 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 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 (completed in 2016), which is an expression of youth culture with its striking façade of gold-coloured aluminium. The outdoor space of ROCKMagneten will soon become an important informal meeting place for young people, especially in June during the annual 8-day Roskilde Festival.


The completion of the buildings marks the successful realisation of a long partnership between MVRDV and COBE, who worked together on the design and realisation of the Roskilde Festival Folk High School, the student housing, and the entire ROCKmagneten masterplan.


ROSKILDE FESTIVAL FOLK HIGH SCHOOL

COBE as Architects

North Europe’s biggest music festival opens folk high school designed by COBE and MVRDV in a former concrete factory

Today is the official opening of Roskilde Festival Højskole (Roskilde Festival Folk High School) – the first new-build general folk high school in Denmark for 50 years. The new folk high school was designed by the architecture firms COBE from Denmark and MVRDV from the Netherlands, the same partnership that created the nearby Ragnarock – Museum for pop, rock and youth culture in the creative Musicon district in the city of Roskilde, Denmark.


THE FIRST FOLK HIGH SCHOOL IN 50 YEARS

The opening of Roskilde Festival Folk High School adds a new chapter to the history of Danish education as the first new-build general folk high school in Denmark for 50 years. The school is situated in Hall 10, a former production hall for the Danish concrete manufacturer Unicon, in the creative district Musicon in the city of Roskilde. The new 5.578 m2 facility offers students and teachers a setting for learning and creative projects in a folk high school based on the same ideals as the annual music festival Roskilde Festival, which is based on voluntary engagement, a humanitarian focus and creativity.


The festival is organized by the Roskilde Festival Association and is created by 30,000 volunteers. All profits from the festival are donated to humanitarian, non-profit and cultural work for the benefit of especially children and young people. In 2019 the music festival had over 130,000 participants and volunteers, which makes Roskilde Festival Denmark’s fourth largest ’city’ measured in population.


A DANISH FOLK HIGH SCHOOL

Based on the ideas of the enlightenment during the early 1800s, the Danish folk high school movement was conceived by the Danish writer and teacher N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783–1872). The school has no fixed curriculum and no exams, and both students and teachers live at the school during a course.


FROM CONCRETE FACTORY TO CREATIVE LEARNING SPACES

In this project COBE and MVRDV renovated and opened the former factory hall up by adding large windows while preserving the existing concrete girders and pillars in their raw state as remnants of the former production hall, Hall 10. Throughout the building in its current state, one senses a clear contrast between new and old. The hall, which was originally a single open space, now houses 16 large boxes in different colours and materials inspired by the festival’s colourful universe. The boxes contain a variety of functions, such as workshops for the school’s artistic courses, stages, music studios, dance hall, classrooms, staff room and a lecture hall with a capacity of 150 people.


Each box is designed as a distinct space that provides an optimal setting for the students to engage in the different subjects. All the boxes address the large common room in the middle of the old production hall, which has a ceiling height of eight metres. This area also contains the school’s communal facilities, such as the dining hall and assembly hall. The boxes are stacked two high in a staggered formation that gives rise to interesting and intimate spaces where the school’s community can develop and thrive in the ‘space in between’.


“For me as a former folk high school student it was a very special task to transform a former concrete factory into a folk high school with the purpose of shaping future generations of students,” says Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “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.”


”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 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,” says Jacob van Rijs, partner and founder of MVRDV.


A DYNAMO IN THE MUSICON DISTRICT

Roskilde Festival Folk High School is an important part of the development of Musicon, which is designed to be a vibrant and creative district. In addition to the folk high school the project also includes dwellings for students and teachers. The student dwellings are situated in front of the folk high school in two separate buildings. They consist of a number of stacked modules with sinusoidal and trapezoidal metal cladding that has clear references to the area’s history as an industrial production area. Each student block is four storeys high and tied together by an exterior system of gangways.


From the dwellings, the students have a view of the neighbouring Ragnarock Museum with the golden aluminium facade to one side and the skate section of the Rabalder Park to the other. Each floor is home to 15–20 students. In addition to their personal dwellings, the students have access to a common space with a kitchen, lounge area and working niches. Next to the student blocks there are four row houses with dwellings for the teachers at the folk high school. The row houses too are based on room-sized prefab modules with sinusoidal and trapezoidal cladding.


A HOLISTIC PLAN FOR ROCKMAGNETEN

COBE and MVRDV won the competition for the so-called ROCKmagneten (Rock Magnet) area in 2011. In addition to the Roskilde Festival Folk High School, the area also includes Ragnarock – Museum for pop, rock and youth culture, which opened in 2016, the head office of the Roskilde Group and a master plan for the transformation of the surrounding area. Today’s festive opening includes speeches and student performances throughout the school and the performance of a song written for the event, ‘At Dø Er At Rejse’ (To Die Is to Travel) by the Danish band Nephew, which gives a concert at the school in the evening.

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