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. Atuarfik Inussuk will be a landmark that tells a story about the child at the centre of school construction, 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.

Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq
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

Aturafik Inussuk becomes a large school and daycare centre, but is broken up into individual buildings that provide a safe environment for the child at each age level. The child grows from the protected little world of the daycare centre to greater freedom, responsibility and vision, eventually ending up on top of the school overlooking the city - ready to take on the world.

Inussuk means cairns, which are man-made constructions that were used in ancient times to navigate by - just as the school should support students' development and show them the way,

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 building stands out like a mountain silhouette in the Greenlandic landscape

The location in the centre of Nuuk town and on the edge of the large plain is used to create a unique school that is both an integral part of the town and 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 room.

"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 for different age groups. We have worked intensively with user involvement to take into account the needs of the users, the special nature and culture of Greenland and to ensure ownership. Through the choice of animals and colours on the facade, cultural recognition and playful learning is 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.


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