The architecture of Nuuk's new school will not only create an optimal learning environment, but also make the school a gathering place in the city. The school on the plain - in Greenlandic Atuarfik Narsarsuaq - will be a landmark that tells a story about the child at the centre of school building, about building a 'village' with space for people, both inside the buildings and in the space between the houses.
The school's main approach is based on Greenland's history of nature as a basic condition for life, while pointing to a way of building that gives first priority to indoor climate, daylight and beautiful spaces where people can live and thrive.
Siorarskiofik - Nuuk City Development
17 500 ㎡
DKK 615 M
Intelligent lighting, long-lasting maintenance-free materials, optimal use of natural daylight and good indoor climate
Ístak general contractor, Verkis Engineers, Vega landscape
Architecture and materials in harmony with surroundings and with a focus on good lighting conditions in an Arctic climate
The sculptural roof forms create an internal double-height spatiality with skylights in each volume. The roofs are clad in Kalzip, which absorbs the sculptural forms and folds down over the top of the façade to the top horizontal band of windows, ensuring good lighting conditions without glare, even when the sun is low in the sky during the long dark hours. The rest of the façade is clad in horizontal boards of natural wood that patinate beautifully in harmony with the surroundings and are also virtually maintenance-free - beautiful and simple.
The design welcomes the landscape and the many small outdoor spaces created between the smaller units provide optimal conditions for shelter, sun, play and stay. At the same time, the passage between the school and the day-care centre links the school area to the city.
A building that follows children from nursery to secondary school
Nuuk School on the Plain will be a large school and day care centre, but is broken up into individual buildings that provide a safe environment for children of each age. The child grows from the sheltered little world of the day care centre to greater freedom, responsibility and outlook, until eventually they end up at the top of the school overlooking the city - ready to take on the world.
The school has room for 1200 students in 5 tracks and up to 26 students per class. A day-care centre for 120 kindergarten and nursery children is located in the overall building, but as a separate unit.
Overhead lighting that takes into account the Arctic climate
During the long dark hours, it is crucial to make the most of daylight. Through the high sloping skylights, the architecture ensures that light is drawn into the building without dazzling - regardless of the height of the sun.
The picture shows the shadow play on the beautiful insitu cast concrete on the construction site in June 2022.
The school on the plain as a mountain silhouette in the Greenlandic landscape
The location in the middle of Nuuk city and on the edge of the 'Great Plain' is used to create a unique school that is both an integral part of the city and at the same time connects with the landscape. The school opens up to the city with active urban spaces and facades that reflect outward-facing functions such as sports facilities, auditorium and heart space.
"The architectural expression is inspired by the ubiquitous Greenlandic nature. The building's roofs are shaped after the rocky landscape and appear silhouetted against the sky, like the contours of the mountains."
Janina Zerbe, Architect and Partner
A school that demands social sustainability
The school's architecture supports social sustainability by creating a safe and stimulating environment adapted to the different age groups. Through the choice of animals and colours on the façade, cultural recognisability and playful learning are already created through the school's exterior.
The school will be a meeting place for the city, where the citizens of the area can get together even during the many cold months when it is difficult to meet outside. The school's large heart room with adjacent canteen can be closed off from the rest of the school, allowing clubs and events to use the facilities after school. In addition to culture and sport, the large open canteen is designed for socialising around meals, both during and after school. Many Greenlandic children do not get the food they need, so the canteen has an important function in terms of well-being and learning.