Copenhagen Gallery

The Universe

This new floating after-school centre on Meinungsgade in Nørrebro is a model project for sustainable building and a new meeting place for the local community.

When JJW Architects set to work in 2007 on an extension to the Universe after-school centre on Nørrebro, they faced a challenge.

The project was to be built on an existing playground, quite a problem in a neighbourhood that not oversupplied with recreational areas.

Playground on the roof

The solution devised by the architects starts out from a simple idea. The oblong building is elevated one storey above ground level, erected on top of a smaller structure which functions as a kind of foundation, thus freeing up play space under the building.

The roof has been laid out as a terrace, and as a result of the extension the total free floor space has been increased. Besides the after-school centre, the ground floor accommodates multi-purpose rooms and rooms for clubs and associations.

A true playhouse

The new after-school centre is surrounded by trees. JJW Architects themselves describe the house as a cave up in the treetops. That is indeed a pretty apt description as the users of the facilities, due to the height of the building, can look straight into the crowns of the trees.

Rust and glass

The floating character of the house is achieved with a steel structure to avoid supporting columns under the building. The multi-purpose rooms on the ground floor are made largely of glass to create transparency and life - and to reinforce the illusion of a floating building block.

The facade is clad in corten steel, a rust-coloured, weatherproof material intended to lend character to the building and to ensure that its patina blends in beautifully with the surrounding brick buildings.

Sustainable model project

The new after-school centre complies with the strict Danish Low Energy Class 1 standard. This has been achieved, for instance, by giving careful thought to the placing of windows relative to the sun - to ensure plenty of daylight, while at the same time avoiding overheating on hot days. This means that the windows are set at irregular intervals across the facade, a feature that makes them into a decorative element. The surrounding trees also filter out sunlight effectively in the summer, and when temperatures fall in the winter, the trees have lost their leaves allowing sunrays to pass through unimpeded.

Due to its energy efficient solutions the project was selected as a model project for the City of Copenhagen's effort against climate change in connection with the COP15 summit held here in December 2009.

Small-scale neighbourhood facelift

But it is not only environmental sustainability that has been the focus of the project. The new building is also intended as a meeting place and an icon for the entire community. The place is already full of life during the day, but the new rooms for clubs and associations are designed to bring life to the building outside the centre's open hours. It is essentially a social venue for all local residents.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014