The world’s best school building is in Copenhagen

The best-designed school in the world is in the Danish capital.

The world's best school building is in Copenhagen
The world's best-designed school: South Harbour School in Copenhagen. Photo: Torben Eskerod/JJW Architects/World Architecture News

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.  

More photos and information about the WAN award can be found here, while the school's website is here

The world's best-designed school: South Harbour School in Copenhagen. Photo: Torben Eskerod/JJW Architects/World Architecture News

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What you need to know about sending your child back to school in Denmark

Denmark on Monday announced plans to open kindergartens and schools next week, along with lifting a range of other coronavirus restrictions. Here's what you need to know.

What you need to know about sending your child back to school in Denmark
Year five at a municipal school in Rungsted. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

When are schools and kindergartens reopening? 

Kindergartens and the first five forms in primary schools are set to reopen on April 15, which will give teachers and other staff one day of preparation after the Easter Monday bank holiday.

But on Wednesday, Health Minister Pernille Rosenkratz-Theil conceded that some schools and some municipalities may need more time to prepare, so it's best to check with your local school. “They will not be allowed to reopen until they can be sure that the rules are being complied with,” she said. “It doesn't matter if it's one date or another one.”

Is it compulsory to send my children back to kindergarten or school? 

Sending your child to a kindergartens is not compulsory in Denmark unless you live in a so-called ghetto district. But it is compulsory to attend school from the age of 5-6 until the age of 15-16. If you are worried about sending your child, to school, however, few questions will be asked if you inform them that either the child, or a member of your household is sick with coronavirus-like symptoms. 

What do I have to do as a parent to reduce the risk of spreading infection? 

Do not allow your child to bring toys from home to kindergarten or school, and make sure that your child has washed their hands thoroughly before arriving on the premises. 

Your child's school or kindergarten is likely to contact you with guidelines on picking up and delivering children. This will require you to arrive at a precise time to reduce the risk of crowding. 

Rather than entering the premises and helping children dress, children are likely to be got ready by staff so that parents can pick them up outside the institution.  

When picking up or delivering your child, avoid any physical contact with staff, other parents, or children who are not your own, and try to maintain a distance from others of at least two metres. 

Do I need to make sure my child sticks to social distancing guidelines? 

No. That is the responsibility of staff at their school or kindergarten must try to ensure. “We do not make guidelines for children. We make guidelines for adults,” Søren Brostrøm, the head of the Danish Health Authority, stressed in a press conference on Wednesday. “We know at the health authorities that children are children.” 
Children will be made to play in smaller groups, will be made to wash their hands frequently, and there will be extra staff employed at schools and kindergartens to make sure they are run in as safe a way as possible. 

When should I keep my child home? 

According to the Danish Health Authority, children with “even mild symptoms like colds” should stay home until at least 48 hours until the symptoms have ceased. If this happens, you should inform staff at the school or daycare.

If your child belongs to a risk group, suffering from diabetes, obesity, a blood disease, or if they have had a transplant operation, or are being given drugs that suppress their immune system, you should discuss whether it is safe to return to school or kindergarten with their doctor, and if it is, you should work with teaching staff to draw up a plan. 

Even if a member of a child's household is within a special risk group, the child can still return to school.

What if someone else in the household is sick with coronavirus-like symptoms? 

According to the Danish Health Authority, you can send a child to school or kindergarten even if a parent or sibling is sick, although of course the sick parent cannot fetch or delivery them. 

Isn't this a crazy experiment putting all our children at risk? 

Not according to Brostrøm.

“This is not an experiment by gradually opening kindergartens and schools,” he said during the press conference on Wednesday. “We are not using children, young people and teachers as guinea pigs. It is our clear assessment that this is safe in terms of health. This is not an experiment.” 

The official guidelines for the controlled reopening of kindergartens can be found here, and here is a Google Translation of the document.  







you stay home until you are well