Paderup Gymnasium (secondary school) in Randers was constructed in 1980 and is a community of 700 pupils. The framework is modern, with expansive, light-filled common areas and plenty of break-out rooms, which foster a positive learning environment and cross-subject working.
The design projects at the school were instigated when a reform of the school system meant longer hours and increased requirements for teachers' preparatory work. For that reason, higher priority was to be given to both staff facilities and work
"The new lesson preparation spaces and zones had to be inviting. We wanted to create something of a homely atmosphere, since teachers would in future be preparing their lessons at school rather than at home."
The large open space and preparation areas have three sections with work tables, which are divided by a room-within-a-room lounge area whose high seat backs, soft cushions and screening end-wall are conducive to team-based preparation, study, informal meetings and other social interaction. The sofas here are Kinnarps' popular 'Scandinavia' model.
FUNCTION AND AESTHETICS
Three meeting sections have been integrated into the staff lunch room, with Kinnarps´ Embrace chairs, the seat pads making for colourful highlights. The proper interplay of functionality, flexibility and aesthetics underpins the whole and allows the concepts of vision and inspiration to pervade the physical learning environment.
INFORMAL SEATING – FOR CONVERSATION
A lovely, curving Trix sofa by the window in the lounge area provides an inclusive and appealing place for relaxation and social engagement. The sofa has black supports and is upholstered in a pale blue Remix fabric from Kvadrat. Small plectrum-shaped tables in oak veneer, also on black supports, complement the arrangement.
With its focus on quality in teaching, the reform of the school system was the opportunity to bring about new and attractive surroundings. The thinking was to give teachers the very best conditions for their lesson preparation in the form of an attractive physical framework with distinct environments and a choice of work areas adapted to various tasks.
Kinnarps was asked to refit the staff facilities and preparation areas and renovate the 'home' areas of the building – break-time facilities located outside each of the three year groups' classrooms.
The management and staff of the school were looking for a holistic solution with three types of work space: a 'quiet compartment' for study, a prep area with both individual and team work stations and a large canteen/ break area with social and lounge spaces.
"We had in mind a new lesson preparation space and zones that would be inviting. We wanted a bit of a homely atmosphere, since teachers would be preparing their lessons in school rather than at home.
So we felt that an important task was to create a space in the school where teachers would be happy to sit and work,” says Pia Laursen, design consultant at Kinnarps.
Kinnarps´ holistic design gave Paderup Gymnasium differentiated areas, offering the teaching staff functional preparation stations and alternatives.
"The three phases of refitting at Paderup Gymnasium were each challenges that at the same time I found inspiring. We've had a great response from the school and other people."
Our aim was to achieve functionality and flexibility within the modern teaching space and environment, with a focus on the ability of both pupils and teachers to exercise choices when using the areas.
When Kinnarps set out to refresh the staff lunch and break areas and the school's offices, the vision was for a canteen that was more than just a room to use between the hours of 11 and 12. It should be a living space fit for activities throughout the day: meetings, knowledge-sharing, sparring and informal get-togethers.
"It was clear that for a large, open, light and flexible staff room, we should keep our general design lines and the aesthetic of the first phase, with a slightly different choice of furniture, including versions of Kinnarps' prize-winning 'Embrace' chair", says designer Anne Reinholdt.
As a contrast to the light 'Square' meeting and dining tables, the Board meeting section was furnished with a six-metre long GRIP table whose clean lines and black linoleum surface is set off by Embrace armchairs with elegant seat covers.
In the staff break and lounge area, a stylish light blue 'Trix' sofa draws people in to sit and talk. This project was also sensitive to the school's general desire to maintain the balance between furniture and empty space afforded by the school's airy rooms.
The third phase involved the fitting out of each of the three years' study and common rooms outside their classrooms. These are known at Paderup Gymnasium as 'home areas'.
"This was a chance to concentrate on the individual year. Before, this was a sizeable but half-empty, rather boring space with a few large tables. Now, it's a charming place that encourages pupils to hang out together.
It also serves as a break-out space for group work or when they need peace and quiet to study on a particular task. A room full of possibilities and variation", adds Laursen.
Each of the three break rooms has a colour theme: blue, green or red. Functional areas are equipped with cell-type work stations, room-within-a-room arrangements where groups can work together and some pleasant areas for socialising.
Kinnarps' design gives pupils the opportunity to switch between work stations and positions during the course of the school day, all in an ergonomic learning environment.
"Our three projects at Paderup Gymnasium so far have been an attempt to identify niches where it was possible to establish a balance between furniture and open space and to create zones in which to concentrate, study and work together", says Laursen.
Furniture designer Anne Reinholdt adds, "From the outset, we were free to go straight ahead with the refit. All the areas had already been nicely decorated with a mixture of light paint and red brick.
This was one of the reasons that I found the three phases really exciting, inspiring and attainable. And we have had a truly fantastic response from the school and visitors."
As a follow-on task to the three successful design phases, Kinnarps also equipped a new cloakroom and rest room area in the basement level of the school.
A dull space with lockers was converted into a lounge where pupils can spend free time comfortably, reading or conversing. It's also adaptable as a room for events and parties.