Thor Heyerdahl College

Larvik/ Norway

Size/ 28,000 m²
Cost/ € 75 million excl. VAT
Competition/ 2005, 1st prize in restricted international competition
Status/ Construction period 2007 – 2009
Client/ Vestfold Municipality
Interior design/ Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
Engineer/ Multiconsult

Thor Heyerdahl College, with 1,650 students and 300 staff, is one of Norway's largest sixth-form colleges, bringing together five schools from a broad spectrum of youth education programmes and creating interdisciplinary synergy, coherence and a real sense of community spirit. The main structure comprises an open square plate into which openings have been incised, allowing natural light to penetrate deep into the building.

The layered design for the new building is simple but effective, clustering the school's various elements in a compact, flexible and vertically oriented building.

The rotational effect and corresponding plate displacement creates outdoor terraces, while internally providing visual connections between floors. The lift and twist created by this rotation also creates a central space, which widens towards the top and increases the natural light flooding into the building.

The scheme includes a separate sports arena for 4,000 spectators: this multi-functional facility is used for sports classes and as the home ground for the city's handball team, as well as for concerts and other cultural events. The arena will strengthen links between the student population and the wider community.

A corresponding plate above is turned 180 degrees on the building's axis, creating a series of single-height areas accommodating traditional teaching/learning activities and workshop activities, while double-height spaces house communal facilities such as an auditorium, a canteen and the library.

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