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BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands Architecture News - Apr 22, 2019 - 05:27   3922 views

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG has completed a vortex-shaped education center that combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands. Called Glasir Tórshavn College, the new education center incorporates a Gymnasium, Tórshavn Technical College and the Business College designed on scattered branches of the building that provides mesmerizing vistas towards the Faroe Islands landscape. 

Located on the undulating fjords of Faroe Islands, the the 19,200-square-metre building serves over 1,750 students, teachers and support staff within its vortex form, overlooking the capital Tórshavn and the sea and verdant fells.  

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

Described as "a special autonomy and individual identity", the building houses the three separate schools while creating ideal conditions for collaboration and learning to flourish — an incubator for innovation rather than a traditional school setting. 

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

The design is derived from the internal needs of the students and teachers, Glasir is conceived as a stack of five individual levels that wrap around a central courtyard: one for each of the three institutions, one for food and faculty, and one for physical exercise and gatherings. 

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

The building's form is organized like a vortex, with each level opening up and the top levels radiating 30m / 100ft out towards the mountainous landscape.

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

"Inspired by the dramatic Faroese topography, Glasir is designed like a landscape for learning: the central space of the school is conceived as a topographical interpretation of the natural landscape — a continuous terraced terrain with steps and staircases that connect across several levels and merge the multistory building into a single entity," said Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Creative Director, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

"Each institution wraps around the space and radiates out into the landscape. In time, the autonomous parts – tailored for their respective uses – will merge into a true hybrid educational institution that doesn’t distinguish between academic and manual skills, but focuses on providing each individual with the most potent possible combo of abstract ideas and concrete skills," Ingels added.

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

The main entrance of the school is accessible via a dramatic bridge due to the steep slope of the site. Students and teachers are immediately welcomed by the large circular courtyard which creates a natural gathering point across all floor levels and academic interests.

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

Designed as an extension and interpretation of the natural landscape, the 32m diameter indoor courtyard with terraced steps provide generous, flexible spaces for group meetings, social events, and dining, as well as auditorium seating for larger events or announcements. 

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

Above, gigantic transparent skylights shelter the space from the wind and weather of the harsh Faroese climate while allowing abundant daylight into the atrium. 

The inner façades between the classrooms and courtyard are realized in colored glass, providing an intuitive overview of the different functions within the building.

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

The interior of the building includes cascading terraces and platforms across several levels, the stepped topography merges the multistory building into a single entity. At the top levels, the high school and business school cantilever towards the mountain-range and moorland landscapes, creating a building that opens towards the city in all directions. 

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

The outer backdrop to the stunning Faroese landscape surrounding the education center is always visible, from the courtyard and classrooms to the gymnasium and library.

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

For the material selection, BIG used stone, cast concrete, and wood with different surface treatments to form a natural canvas, while the exterior choice of glass and aluminum creates a neutral background to the school’s sculptural design.

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

Seen from outside, the exterior glass façades are mounted in a sawtooth shingle that allows the straight elements to form a soft circular shape and blend into the natural surroundings. Over time, grass planted on the rooftops will slowly grow to allow the education center to disappear into the Faroese landscape.

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

BIG's vortex-shaped education center combines three schools under one roof on the Faroe Islands

Project facts

Project name: Glasir Tórshavn College

Type: Competition

Architects: Bjarke Ingels Group

Location: Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Partners In Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Finn Nørkjær, Ole Elkjær Larsen

Project architect: Høgni Laksáfoss

Project team: Alberte Danvig, Alejandro Mata Gonzales, Alessio Valmori, Alexandre Carpentier, Annette Birthe Jensen, Armen Menendian, Athena Morella, Baptiste Blot, Boris Peianov, Camille Crepin, Claudio Moretti, Dag Præstegaard, Daniel Pihl, David Zahle, Edouard Boisse, Elisha Nathoo, Enea Michelesio, Eskild Nordbud, Ewelina Moszczynska, Frederik Lyng, Goda Luksaite, Henrik Kania, Høgni Laksáfoss, Jakob Lange, Jakob Teglgård Hansen, Jan Besikov, Jan Kudlicka, Jan Magasanik, Jeppe Ecklon, Jesper Boye Andersen, Ji-Young Yoon, Johan Cool, Kari-Ann Petersen, Kim Christensen, Kristoffer Negendahl, Long Zuo, Martin Cajade, Michael Schønemann Jensen, Mikkel Marcker Stubgaard, Niklas Rausch, Norbert Nadudvari, Oana Simionescu, Richard Howis, Sabine Kokina, Simonas Petrakas, Sofia Sofianou, Takumi Iwasawam, Tobias Hjortdal, Tommy Bjørnstrup, Victor Bejenaru, Xiao Xuan Lu.

Size: 19,200 m2

All images © Rasmus Hjortshoj

All drawings © BIG

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