School shutdowns are typically followed by depopulation of urban areas, eventually leading to winding up the day-to-day activities of urban settlements: the shops close one by one, the children families start leaving the town, and the number of ‘home for sale’ signs multiply. To avoid this downfall requires energetic action combined with strategic interventions.

Reborn as a multifunctional community centre, the transformed shutdown school in Vester Hæsinge features several interventions aimed at supporting multiple uses and increased shared activity, including a new ‘public living room’, a dynamic central meeting space which creates a new focal area and an icon of the revitalized X-shaped structure embodying transparency and connectivity.

A range of different activities are housed by the different ‘arms’ of the X-shaped figure, allowing each arm to develop over time according to different schedules and financial schemes. By combining sports clubs, communal welfare provision, gym and boxing facilities, with archive, kindergarten and health related functions, a strong platform to promote social innovation is created.

The new grand multi-space, easily reachable from the parking area by means of a ramp blended into a wooden ‘Spanish Stair’, centralizes access and distribution, and interconnects visually and physically the different functional areas of the X, while providing flexible space for informal being together and community activities. Checkerboard openings and a full-height glass façade facing the main access provide generous amounts of natural light, while a chimney with a suspended lounge and fireplace, together with a floating orangery and a vertical garden add a note of ‘hygge’ – Danish cosiness – to the space. “A beautiful and welcoming landmark for volunteering, community and skilled work”, MUTOPIA co-founder Kristina Adsersen says.

The suspended greenery preserves the full functionality of the floor space and contributes to a good quality indoor climate, while providing a new identity for the shutdown school as a ‘social greenhouse’.

Enthusiastically called “a fantastic building and an architectural gem with an inspiring, airy and green environment” by Jørgen Brink, the representative of the X-House Association, the project “announces a new era in the history of Vester Hæsinge” according to Deputy Mayor Anne Møllegaard Mortensen.

Client: Municipality of Faaborg-Midtfyn, X-Huset, supported by The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities (Lokale og Anlægsfonden LOA), Realdania, Ken Fonden

Program: retrofit of shutdown school for a total floor area of 2.500m2, including 250m2 multipurpose space, sports club amenities, communal welfare provision, health related functions

Year: 2014 - 2017

Location: Vester Hæsinge, Fyn

Team design: Serban Cornea, Kristina Adsersen, Marcin Kruk, Joann Busk, Maria Herreros, Eduardo Artigas, Jolanta Szczepanik, Krzysztof Fornalewski

Team construction: Serban Cornea, Kristina Adsersen, Henrik Ulsfort

Collaborators: OBH Engineers, Colliers International Danmark, anthropologist&artist Mikael Eriksen

Budget: 12 mio DKR/1.6 mio EU

Status: completed 2017