C.F. Møller carves canyon through Danish university building with metallic communal staircase

The innovative architectural scheme at a Danish university combines four separate institutes under one roof.

ODENSE – The University of Southern Denmark’s most recent campus addition, the Technical Faculty, constitutes a collective research and education environment. One of Scandinavia’s leading architectural firms C.F. Møller has devised an innovative scheme, uniting four individual institutes under one roof, to stimulate a fluidity of boundaries and knowledge sharing.

An immense glass envelope shelters four distinct structures housing each of the institutes. Multilevel bridges span the building linking to a metallic central core, where a vast, flowing staircase dominates the perforated structure which the firm describes as ‘a piece of furniture containing common functions and meeting-rooms, and giving access to a roof garden, café and lounge area.’ This arrangement encourages the sharing of resources, instigating interaction between staff and students across the whole facility. The interior offers great flexibility; a hierarchy of rooms sees the placement of the largest laboratories on the ground floor, providing the opportunity for research processes to expand outdoors.

The exterior aesthetic embraces features of the existing campus – a 1970s structuralist scheme by architects Krohn and Hartvig Rasmussen – with the project adopting the same distinctive materiality, yet reinterpreting its use and appearance to set the building apart from the historic architecture. A seemingly weightless screen floats over the glass exterior, revealing and concealing, to control the interior environment. Composed of an array of pre-fabricated white concrete panels, the screen acts as glare protection, reducing direct sunlight by up to 50 percent. Circles of varying scales puncture the surface to allow the passage of light, as well as presenting unobstructed views of the picturesque surroundings.

With its innovative integration of four separate institutes, the university’s new Technical Faculty offers an exciting and pioneering educational facility, which will undoubtedly have a progressive effect on the world class research conducted there.

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