Dutch architecture firm MVRDV and Denmark-based COBE Architects have just finished construction on the Roskilde Festival Folk High School, an unconventional school built inside a former concrete factory in Roskilde’s Musicon creative district just outside Copenhagen. Created to further the “lifelong learning” values of the world-famous Roskilde Music Festival that takes place every year in the small town, the high school follows an immersive and “non-formal adult education” championed by the Danish system of folk high schools and is the first purpose-built school of its kind in Denmark in 50 years.

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interior of revamped factory turned high school

natural light illuminates interior of revamped factory turned high school

The Roskilde Festival Folk High School marks the final phase of the 11,000-square-meter ROCKmagneten masterplan, also designed by MVRDV and COBE, and includes the school — set inside a former concrete factory — two new modular blocks of student housing, a building for staff housing and a series of adaptable shipping container-based structures that will host an ever-changing group of innovative startups, many related to the music and youth culture. To complement Musicon’s creative character, the buildings are fitted with playful geometric shapes and vibrant colors along with different materials inspired by the music festival.

music space inside the school

brightly colored classroom

“Our design, just like the school itself, was inspired by the spirit of the Roskilde Festival. It is all about music, art, activism — but most of all, freedom,” says Jacob van Rijs, principal and co-founder of MVRDV. “The Roskilde festival combines ‘having a good time’ with innovation in an informal way, giving a special vibe that we wanted to capture in the design of the interior of the school.”

Related: COBE Architects to transform Copenhagen’s Paper Island into a bustling cultural hub

interior of school with people sitting on stairs

interior of school

For the school, the architects used a “box-within-a-box” concept to divide the factory’s large industrial space into smaller usable spaces. The colorful modules can be used for a variety of programming including a 150-seat auditorium — named the Orange Stage after the main stage of the Festival — a music studio, a workshop, and classrooms for dance, art and architecture. The recently completed school and housing joins the rock museum Ragnarock, completed in 2016, that’s wrapped in a striking facade of gold-colored aluminum in an expression of youth culture.


+ COBE Architects

Images by Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST and Ossip van Duivenbode

exterior of the school with bright illuminated windows

shipping containers