Ellekilde School

Rarely do you encounter a space with so many qualities. Light, welcoming, colourful and functional. Thanks to its excellent acoustics, the long central room at the school works extremely well architecturally, on both a large and small scale.

Photo: Helene Høyer Mikkelsen, architect MAA
Ellekilde School near Sakskøbing on the island of Lolland is the result of a merger of three neighbouring schools and has approx. 400 pupils and 75 employees. From the outside, the building looks like an extended wing with a central entrance. From the front there are two floors, while there is only one floor facing the playground behind the school. The effect is that of a solid, simple but colourful school, which lives up to the architects’ intentions and the impression of the school as a single entity. In cross-section, the different floor heights in the building obviously produce an exciting, double-height space along the entire length of the wing. The room is lit from the gables, but additionally from a high window running lengthways which casts light onto the Troldtekt panels, accentuating their textured surface. At intervals, there is supplementary lighting from large skylights running across the ceiling.

Smart, red boxes
The school is organised with classrooms at either end of the building. The after-school club is located next to the classrooms for the youngest children. The lower floor also houses specialist teaching rooms around the ‘square’ near the main entrance. There are further specialist teaching facilities above those on the lower floor, as well as a staff room etc. The layout is thus very clear and efficient. The large central room also accommodates four sculptural boxes on one level. They stand apart as objects in a distinctive red colour with rounded corners, dividing the long room into zones. The boxes house toilets, a cleaning depot and a kitchen, but also alcove seating on the outside. One of the boxes is also a base for the school library with a small office where pupils borrow books etc. The tops of the boxes can be accessed via stairs or walkways and are used for teaching at PCs, group work or play. The boxes also act as large red partitions, creating smaller spaces which nevertheless retain contact with the school’s main communal room. The change of scale also concentrates the attention. The lower room height beneath the gallery corresponds to creating rooms in child format.

And, of course, it works!
The main square is also where children eat lunch, with the colourful furniture as decorative elements. Generally speaking, the square is intended as a multifunctional space, which can also be used outside school hours by the local community. In many ways, Ellekilde School fulfils the new teaching requirements. Thanks to the flexible structure of the main hall, it is possible to teach individually and in groups while also providing a space where the entire school can assemble. From the first-floor gallery, the school’s headmaster describes the acoustics as surprisingly good. You can stand and speak in a double-height room without being disturbed by irritating noise. Everyone at the school was anxious to see whether the high-ceilinged room occupied by different-sized groups of children playing and learning simultaneously would not make it difficult to concentrate. The Troldtekt acoustic panels on the ceilings fulfil an important function by subduing the sounds in a large and diffuse space otherwise clad in hard materials. At the same time, the homogenous ceiling and the interplay between the bevelled panels create a good sense of continuity. The Troldtekt acoustic panels are light with a fine texture. The panels are installed in all the rooms, creating coherence between the individual classrooms etc. and the central space.