One of Arne Jacobsen’s masterpieces and a registered landmark with fully protected status, Munkegårds School in Gentofte has undergone a sublime restoration, including an extension designed by Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter.
The school opened its doors to students for the first time in 1957 and is considered one of Arne Jacobsen’s masterpieces. The school’s characteristic courtyards and pavilion buildings are part of a grid system. Every aspect of the school – from the contours of the buildings to the design of doorknobs – was meticulously designed by Jacobsen and is now fully protected as a registered landmark.
New teaching methods require new surroundings
Teaching methods have evolved and changed drastically since 1957. As these changes unfolded, Munkegårds School had a growing need for more open and flexible facilities to meet the school’s desire for interdisciplinary classroom instruction and differentiated teaching practices.
The changes to be implemented involved the renovation and improvement of new access and distribution structures at the school, as well as a 1500-square-meter extension with new classrooms. Expanding such a significant architectural work without impacting the overall expression and idea of the architecture was a demanding challenge for the architects competing for the contract. Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter took first prize in the competition with an unconventional solution, which included a large subterranean extension under the existing schoolyard.
Bright underground rooms
The new extension follows the grid utilized in Arne Jacobsen’s original design. Inspired by the small distinctive courtyards, which are a characteristic feature of the school’s design, Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter designed four crystal-like openings that draw light into a large common space with adjoining classrooms. This eliminates the sense of being in a “murky cellar” and instead ensures a room full of light. During the planning period, the architects worked intensively on achieving the right daylight factor, including close collaboration with the light laboratory at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.
Past and present intertwine
Each year, the Arne of the Year award is awarded by the Danish Academic Architect Association (DAAA) to architects and other personalities who work to advance architectural innovation in Copenhagen and drive the city towards new successes. Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter was awarded the 2010 “Big Arne” for their work on Munkegårds School. The DAAA jury issued the following statement in connection with the award:
“The new school is unique, combining modern facilities with respect for Arne Jacobsen’s ideas, and providing children with spaces for even better learning and well-being. All solutions and materials have been carefully considered for their aesthetics and quality in relation to the overall result. As in Arne Jacobsen’s original work, the architectural solutions exude visionary and innovative thinking, combining the best of the original architecture with the best from our era. Two unique architectural works and two educational worlds are brilliantly and impressively intertwined in this work by Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter.”