St. Nicolai School Centre from the 1850’ies is a continuous reincarnation of everything from the traditional Danish school with gyms and schoolyards. With five art houses as the new function the possibility of a new typology of creative and dynamic culture centre emerges. The project evolves with the idea of the schoolyard as the centre, joining the different functions together, an active free space in a more cheerful schoolyard than the historical version. A yard, creating a base of the different house programmes, movies, literature, house of children, craftsmanship and music.
Along the west side a continuous wall of corten steel is build along two terraces and a stage/ tribune also made in corten steel. Furthermore different outdoor activity spaces are added to the schoolyard: The Garden of Tales, The City Garden, The Market Square and The Plaza, opening up towards Katrinegade. The tilting terrain in the schoolyard is prevailed and a new enclosing surface of black asphalt is laid out, on which patterns are drawn with thermo plastic and street paint. The schoolyard is designed with a big white drawing on a new layer of black asphalt- as a new drawing board. The project development has been theme-based and during the design process five groups of users have participated in concretizing the programming and the future schedule of utilization and maintenance.
Since 1890 St. Nicolaj has been a school complex. Since then the schoolyard as well as all the buildings had been worn down, unfit for modern school life. Therefore the whole building complex, with the schoolyard and the five buildings, was to be turned into a cultural place, renovated by The Municipality of Kolding and the Realdania Foundation.
The complex is an almost 3.400 m2 big schoolyard with five different school buildings from various periods of time. Build from 1890 until late 1930, all made in different styles and with either red or yellow bricks or plaster. The courtyard has a long rectangular shape almost 100 meter by 35 meters with a small terrain slope in the middle. Along one side of the courtyard, to the west, there was a condemned fence and planted area that ran for almost 70 meters. The buildings had all various stairs and extensions in a poor state. The courtyard was used only as a parking lot and the whole state was literally a messy backyard site.
AIM OF INTERVENTION
The aim for the site has been to turn the whole area into a cultural complex, each house having different purposes as follows: House of literature, House of films, House of crafts, House of children’s culture and House of music. The schoolyard should be created so that it would benefit from all of the dynamic features from the houses. Hereby we harvested following programmes: a cinematic place as an outdoor scene also able to feature small concerts or plays, places for expositions and markets, places for children to play and everyone else to stay, gather, run and just be in the sun. The aim of intervention by an architectural point of view: On the city level or structural codex we did two things to full fill the yard on both sides: A new wall almost 70 meters long and a new structure in the row of houses on the other side. Our aim was to make a new concept for a modern school yard, one that was a lot livelier, full of joy, participation and through feeling of dynamic purpose.
DESCRIPTION OF THE INTERVENTION
The new schoolyard now consists of various situations and elements that communicates with the five building programmes; an entrance area when coming from Blæsbjergade, a garden for children’s play and relaxing on the grass, a terrace for the cinema cafes guests, a big circular stage for summer cinema screenings, theatre plays or concerts, an area for markets, a small courtyard for drinks and talks when visiting the house of music, and a square for multiple use.
Having a differentiated building complex the aim of the project has been to bind the complex together as a hole. Therefore the selection of materials has been essential. The main material used is corten steel, asphalt and white thermoplastic combined with pale pink magnolia trees and bright blue, yellow and red elements in the garden.
The asphalt serves as a blanket covering the whole schoolyard, the bright white thermoplastic creating links between the houses. The white dots challenge one to walk from dot to dot - or merely creating new ones by drawing directly on the asphalt. With its orange color the corten steel creates an inclosing wall that links the various buildings together, but also areas for recreation like the terrace and the stage. The blue, yellow and red elements in the garden are elements for playing such as a sandbox and water basins.
The new schoolyard does not have a central space but has many points of view - a poly focal space. Is has become a place of various activities linked to the themes of the buildings, a public urbane space that now invites one to participate.