Unifying architecture for folk high school

Ry Højskole has an attractive new entrance building with a fabulous interior.

Troldtekt Ry Hoejskole
Photo: Thomas Mølvig, architect

In the course of its 126-year history, Ry Højskole has become a motley collection of buildings which have served their individual purposes while at the same time constituting a pleasant environment for the school’s teaching activities. However, the school has been unable to expand due to its location near the town centre, with the railway station on one side and the Gudenå river on the other.

A labyrinth can certainly be charming, but it also has to work in practice. The school’s management therefore decided to optimise many of the existing square metres by demolishing the dilapidated ‘Bakkehuset’, constructing a new building along Klostervej and restoring the adjacent buildings.

The new building is red-brick with a silver-grey slate roof. The precise folds of the roof elegantly connect the old and the new buildings. Horizontal wooden slats filter the daylight, adding both texture and depth to the facades. Distinctive angled oak columns are part of the fine composition along the street at the front.

The new building was designed by DANØ Arkitektur. Jesper Danø is no ordinary architect; with a solid background as a trained carpenter/cabinetmaker, he subsequently qualified as an architect and has worked at famous firms of architects in Denmark and abroad. In Spain, Jesper Danø was employed for a period at the Enric Miralles studio in Barcelona, and later in Denmark at Exners Tegnestue, 3XN and SHL. Based on his extensive experience, he is very confident at handling complexity, design and challenging angles.

Large and light space
The interior is surprisingly light and vibrant. The high-ceilinged foyer extends upwards three storeys, and features a sculptural wooden staircase that welcomes you with its quirky zigzag shape. The ground floor houses two separate sound studios as well as a control cubicle. From the studios there is direct access to the lovely courtyard environment.

The second and third levels are one large interconnected space designed for social interaction, teaching activities, the library and exhibitions. The shelving units are on wheels for an extremely flexible room layout. Here, up to 100 students can come together, and the acoustics are regulated by means of white-painted Troldtekt acoustic panels on all the angled and irregular ceiling surfaces.

On choosing Troldtekt, Jesper Danø says:
“It was important for me that the interior should be dominated by natural materials, and I wanted to create a calm backdrop to the open-plan levels. The panels therefore butt directly against each other without any bevels for a flatter and rawer look.

The acoustics were a key issue in the process, because the rooms are to be used for both teaching and social interaction in the large and interconnected space. Behind the cement-bonded wood wool there is a 10 cm cavity. The acoustician wanted more, but it has proved to work extremely well, and both the students and teachers at the school are extremely happy with the result.”