Bjørnholt School in the south of Oslo has been designed with new pedagogical concepts in mind. This requires rooms to be dimensioned differently to a traditional upper secondary school. Learning takes place in open common areas shared by different subjects, surrounded by group rooms of various sizes, laboratories and work rooms. This results in effective use of space, but entails a more complex and demanding planning process. The volumes must be large, open and transparent, and there are special requirements regarding fire safety and escape routes, noise and acoustics and, not least, ventilation, heating, cooling and lighting. Importance has been attached to the need for mingle areas, seating units and open circulation areas adapted to various sizes of student groups. The basic concept of the school requires co-use of functions by the different areas of study, and the fundamental visions carry political goals associated with integration and learning in a neighbourhood with a large multicultural population. Bjørnholt has courses for the International Baccalaureate as well as courses in media, music, dance and drama and building and construction. This results in a lively and varied environment.
The school and the indoor sports arena, is built as a self-contained building complex, where the unifying element is the roof. The school building itself is divided into two parts, with a semi-glass-covered area between them. This area is occupied by the library, which is also open to the local population. The various academic departments are placed around communal areas and a canteen. Each department has its own group rooms and seminar rooms and workshops, staff rooms and course administration. Auditoriums, shared group rooms, learning and self-study areas are located in the centre of the building. The vocational courses have well-equipped workshops with access for vehicles and their own laboratories, an IT department and a department for special needs education. On the opposite side is the Department for Music, Dance and Drama, with “black boxes” on two floors. There is also an adapted education department for autistic pupils and other pupils with special needs. This has a separate entrance and a protected outdoor area.
The materials have a rough character with a lot of visible in-situ concrete combined with steel and glass. Bold colours and forms flirt with an otherwise cool expression.