Village in the Schoolyard

Village-in-the-Schoolyard is a transformation project of a private school with a twofold agenda: to improve the school’s health profile, currently among the country’s poorest, and to create a social meeting point across age and interest for the entire local community of Torup, a renowned Danish eco-village situated in the middle of the Halsnæs peninsula, a part of the Capital Region of Denmark.

The 50% crowdfunded project has been completed with financial support from a number of foundations and Halsnæs Municipality, doubled by engagement from local businesses and community, and private contributions including pupils’ donations. The project aims at supporting the growth strategy of the Halsnæs Municipality by increasing the attractiveness of the school premises, while in the same time strengthening the qualities of the school grounds as areas for social training, outdoor activities and public life generators.

The school premises, consisting of a school courtyard in need of a new pavement and improved access to one of the buildings, along with a forecourt serving as a parking area, have been retrofitted to support their potential development as activity areas. The forecourt has been turned into a village square, while the courtyard has been turned into an outdoor classroom featuring a ramp staircase which doubles as scene to provide playful connections while supporting school related events and gatherings.

The former parking area in front of the school premises has been transformed into a public space consisting of a multipurpose sports field surrounded by activity hotspots shaped like gabled houses evocative of the homely appeal of village life. The gabled houses, interconnected by a continuous fence which doubles as a bench on both in- and outside, provide protection for errant balls, and create a village within the schoolyard.

The village houses open their doors towards the village square, inviting everybody inside into oversized themed ‘interiors’ suited for organized learning and playing activities, and impulsive usage: climb up in grandma’s cuckoo clock and jump down on the giant sofa! Welcome into Le Salon where you can try out the picture frame climbing wall! Join us at The Open House, where all the windows and doors are open to provide multiple in-and out routes! Improve your basketball throw skills at The Tree House. If tired, take a seat in The Grand Chair and watch the passers-by, or visit The Library, a temporary library and chill out hotspot which turns into a poetry reading area during the long summer evenings!

New role-plays and social games emerge along with a wealth of associations and situations not unlike those of everyday life. This adds a new level of performativity to the central multipurpose sports field, while also enabling the co-existence of a wide variety of games and play activities. The emerging public space creates a strong connection between village and school: the school as an activity generator intensifies the ‘pulse’ of the village by adding a daily energy boost, which in turn contributes to strengthening the children’s self-image as active and visible citizens.

MUTOPIA’s Village-in-the-Schoolyard was chosen winner of ‘School Courtyard at High Speed’ competition (Drøn på Skolegården) out of 106 entries and 17 projects shortlisted for development in spring 2013 due to its talented interventions and resourceful integration of learning, physical activities and being together. The competition by Realdania, Lokale og Anlægsfonden and Kræftens Bekæmpelse, aimed at developing innovative proposals for promoting increased play and physical activities within school environments in response to the poor level of physical activity of the pupils.

Client: Halsnæs Lilleskole, supported by Realdania, Lokale og Anlægsfonden, Kræftens Bekæmpelse

Program: School retrofit

Year: 2013 - 2015

Location: Torup, Municipality of Halsnæs

Budget: 2 mio. kr., 50% crowdfunded

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

Team construction: Serban Cornea, Kristina Adsersen, Carina Nissen, Henrik Ulsfort

Collaborators: Benny Schytte, Halsnæs Lilleskole

Status: completed