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Competition: Våler primary school, Norway

The Norwegian Architects Association has launched an international competition for a 220 million NOK timber primary school and activity centre in Våler, a remote settlement in the south-east of Norway (Deadline: 3 April)

The project is to be built next to an existing secondary school. Proposals must harness timber construction and also include a vision to deliver new town-centre housing.

The competition, which is open to all architects, comes six years after a contest to replace Våler’s historic timber church, which burnt down in 2009. The call for entries broke a national record with 239 submissions, and the winning scheme by Oslo-based architect Espen Surnevik completed in March last year.

Våler, Norway

Våler, Norway

Competition site

According to the brief for the new competition: ‘The construction of a school and activity centre is … an important means for increasing the desire to move and live in the area.

‘The project also focuses on the development of the town centre and housing. The proposed solutions shall strengthen the possibility of condensing the town centre, opening up and connecting with the River Glomma, both architecturally and through the use and design of the outside areas.’

Våler, Norway

Våler, Norway

Competition site

Våler is close to the Swedish border, overlooking the River Glomma. It has around 3,700 inhabitants spread across 11 hamlets. Around 90 per cent of the municipality’s 700km² territory is forested, making timber the preferred material for the new facilities.

The existing secondary school was built in 2009 and has around 140 students. The new primary school will be expected to accommodate a total of 260 pupils. The integrated two-school complex will cover the first 10 years of education for up to 400 children.

The competition languages are Norwegian, Danish and Swedish, and at least three architects will feature on the jury. The winning team will receive the design contract, while a prize fund of around 1.1 million NOK will be shared between the top entries.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 3pm local time, 3 April.

Contact details

Gisle Nataas
Norske Arkitekters Landsforbund
844 146 302
Josefinesgate 34
Oslo
0351
Norway

Email: gna@arkitektur.no
View the contract notice for more information

Lairdsland Primary School case study: Q&A with Michál Cohen

The co-founder of Walters & Cohen Architects discusses lessons learned designing a primary school for Kirkintilloch in Scotland

Walters & Cohen Architects

Walters & Cohen Architects

Michál Cohen

How did your Lairdsland Primary School project create an appropriate facility for Kirkintilloch and improve its surroundings?

The location of the building on a former brownfield site and parallel to water was a key decision made through consultation with staff, parents and pupils, who wanted the school to identify with the Forth & Clyde Canal. The school’s relationship with its surroundings is unique; the new building creates a strong presence towards the towpath opposite and the adjacent marina, improving the sense of community in this industrial area. The two-storey building has double-height glazing on the canal-side, which faces north, and internal glazed screens to the classrooms. This provides light and spacious learning environments as well as views across the water and visibility into the heart of the school, acting as an advertisement for the creativity of the pupils.

Kirkintilloch, Scotland

Kirkintilloch, Scotland

Source: Image by Dennis Gilbert

Lairdsland Primary School by Walters & Cohen Architects

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness?

During the competition process our dialogue with the client was open and clear. This set the tone for the project. As well as our previous research into exemplar learning environments, we presented drawings, a physical model and a short fly-through video to the client, and visited precedent buildings together to agree a common terminology, and discuss adjacencies and the feeling of space. In response to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, we also spoke about the type of activities that would be most important to learning in the school. We used sketches to show scenarios and work through the spatial requirements, rather than relying on recognised terminology. The contract was Design and Build, so it was our responsibility during construction to keep this design vision and client ethos alive, and remain within budget.

What advice would you have to participants on designing a new school and community centre for rural Våler?

Put yourself in the minds of a pupil, teacher, parent and local resident in Våler. Engage with all involved, and design a space that they will love using, will be an asset to the community and responsive to its environment. Remember that learning is as much about play and social interaction as academics and pupil safety. Explore the art of the possible, and most of all, I would encourage you to have fun.

Kirkintilloch, Scotland

Kirkintilloch, Scotland

Source: Image by Dennis Gilbert

Lairdsland Primary School by Walters & Cohen Architects