The Danish firm JJW Architects was recently announced as the winners of the World Architecture News Education Award 2016 (WAN) for its work designing Skolen i Sydhaven (South Harbour School) in Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen school beat out 33 other institutions, including five other finalists “that showcased a remarkable and diverse range of the best in international education design.” The other short-listed schools were in Japan, the US, Turkey and Zambia.
WAN selected the South Harbour School for its "maritime and public profile, inviting in its neighbours and reaching out to its city, becoming an active and socially sustainable part of its new community."
The WAN panel also praised the school's role in accommodating Copenhagen's rapidly-growing population by creating a "new piece of city" that will engage the surrounding community and facilitate social exchange through planned public activities like music and cooking classes.
"By far the best of the highly articulated schemes, this project engages the landscape and the building in making a new place, in a new piece of city," Simon Allford, one of the judges in the competition, said.
The school's design is meant to stimulate students, teachers and visitors as they walk through the building with rooms that have both low-ceiling spaces and high-ceiling spaces and floor plans that feature a combination of horizontal and vertical connections throughout.
"I think that the kids would definitely love it, no doubt about it. It's been done with a really rigorous and intelligent plan that is not in any way willful, which is incredible. It's a really clever and wonderful piece of architecture," competition judge Keith Papa said.
"This is just so Danish and clever, it's playful, it's happy and it looks like a happy space to be. Which I think we can all agree on, schools are meant to be our happiest days after all," fellow judge Maria Nesdale added.
The world's best-designed school: South Harbour School in Copenhagen. Photo: Torben Eskerod/JJW Architects/World Architecture News