Norwegian architecture firms Rambøll Norge and Arkitektgruppen Cubus AS recently teamed up to jump start an entire neighborhood revitalization project with their incredible renovation and expansion of an old, run-down school. The structure, which dates back to 1924, has been transformed into a modern neighborhood community center called the Ny Krohnborg School.
Originally chosen to build a school on an old war bunker site located in Bergen, the Norwegian architects quickly realized that the bunker area was too small for the project, forcing the city to look for another site for their proposed community center. After an urban analysis, the new location of the Løvstakksiden neighborhood was chosen for its lack of existing community areas. The idea to expand an existing school by adding a new sports and culture arena was seen by locals as an exciting way to strengthen the “social structure and the identity of the neighborhood”, which had very little community participation between the residents.
Once the location had been chosen, the regeneration project required a strategic merger of ideas between the architectural team and the city council to commence on expanding the surface area of the existing school while simultaneously respecting the school’s history. Adding to the existing building without creating a widely contrasting appearance was the main concern for the city council and for the architects—the delicate balance of preservation and redesign presented quite a challenge.
Along with protecting the building’s historic presence, the project team was focused on reusing and repurposing as many existing materials as possible. As far as structural features, many of the old building’s external facades, such as the natural stone work, slate roof tiles, small pane windows, cast iron details and paneled doors were left in their original state. On the interior, structural and decorative materials that were durable and aesthetically pleasing such as flagstone flooring and dado brickwork were also maintained in the new design.
In order to allow for better functionality and use of natural sunlight to improve the building’s energy efficiency, the new design incorporated new doors and windows throughout the building, including two large bay windows that were installed in the north facade to allow for more interior light. For added functionality, the building was equipped for both lifts and ramps for universal accessibility.
The resulting redesign of the Ny Krohnborg School has not only given new life to a previously run-down building, but the project has given the area a vibrant neighborhood center, acting as a school and nursery as well as an inviting public space for local residents.
Photography © Hundven-Clements Photography