It is a well-known fact that school shutdowns are followed by a gradually depopulation of urban areas, eventually leading to winding up the day-to-day activities of the urban settlements: the shops close down 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.

The motivation of the local community for engaging in the transformation of Vester Hæsinge School stems from a crisis – the risk for Vester Hæsinge’s depopulation , and a dream – the opportunity to create social value by uniting the dynamic surrounding nature with an active effort towards promoting health, cultural and social related activities.

By integrating a local community center with sports clubs, communal welfare provision and other health related functions, a strong platform to promote social innovation is created.

The different activities can be housed by the different ‘arms’ of the X-HOUSE. This allows for a big flexibility in terms of phased development. Each ‘arm’ can be retrofitted according to different schedules and different financial schemes.

This in turn provides freedom to target the center of the X figure as the main area of intervention.

The center of the X provides the best opportunities to centralize the access and distribution to the different functions, while in the same time providing the opportunity to create a diagonal–connection between the most active outdoor spaces: parking and arrival towards North East, and the green recreational area towards South West.

By rotating the existing multipurpose space 90 degrees, the fourth Southern ‘arm’ of the X is activated as a communal welfare provision area, while a new connection between the South West green area and the former school courtyard towards South East is created. The new multipurpose space becomes the focal area of the X–HOUSE by centralizing access and distribution, while in the same time articulating all the different areas of activity, both indoors and outdoors.

A Spanish Stair containing storage functions  for the nearby gym secures direct access from the parking areas to the new multi-space level, while a ‘terrace cascade’ connects the multi- space with the recreational areas towards West, establishing a series of platforms and sheltered areas for eating, outdoor cooking, bike repairing and other informal activities.

The multi-space is provided with a generous room height, to enhance its central and multifunctional qualities, and a glass façade, to secure transparency and visual connections between the different functional areas. A ‘floating orangery’ preserves the full functionality of the floor space and contributes to a good quality indoor climate, while also adding to the image of the X-HOUSE as a Nature&Health community center.

Four platforms at different heights representing the air, earth, water and fire elements provide intimate activity pockets which add a new layer of usage to the flexible main space.

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

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 -

Location: Vester Hæsinge, Fyn

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

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

Status: Restricted competition, 1st prize