Elementary school buildings. Examples


Januar 2011
Sist endret 01.01.2011
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Elementary school buildings. Examples

Januar 2011



Fig. 121

Before renovation. Photo: B. Matusiak

Fig. v2

After renovation. Photo: J. Rolland

Fig. 121

Daylight openings (skylights) in the roof and the new façade are the most distinctive and eye-catching features of this renovation project. One air-intake tower is shown in the lower picture.


01 Contents

This guide gives design/layout examples of elementary schools. In contrast to former times more-standardised school buildings, these days there is a greater variation in design/layout. The examples have been chosen to illustrate different models of home-base areas. Some of the concepts used in this guide are explained in Building Research Design Guide 342.205.


02 Different school models

Large numbers of «classroom schools» are still being built, but as a result of new organisational forms and new ways of working, several examples of elementary schools designed with new floor plans and room types have been built in recent years.


03 References

Plan- og  bygningsloven (pbl) [Planning and Building Code]

Teknisk forskrift  til  pbl (TEK) med veiledning [Technical regulations for the Planning and Building Code (TEK) with directions]

Building Research Design Guide:

342.205Elementary school buildings. Layout and design

381.501   Skolens  uterom  [The school’s outdoor area]  



Borgen Community Centre in Asker –
office-environmental model for home-base areas

11 General

– Lower secondary school, grades 8–10

– Completed in 2005. A school building from 1970 that has been converted into a place for the entire local community. The renewal has been quite comprehensive and the floor plan has been changed completely.

– Architects for the renewal: HUS Arkitekter AS. Specialist consultants from SINTEF

– During the period 2004–2008 Borgen Community Centre was a demonstration building in the EU project: «Bringing Retrofit Innovation to Application in Public Buildings» (BRITA in PuBs).


12 Floor plan

121 General. The main building of the community centre has one single floor plus a gallery. The floor follows the terrain and is on two levels, see fig. 121.

122 Positioning of functions – main features. The building comprises a central block with wings each side, see fig. 122. The home-base areas are situated at the end of the main block and in the side wings.

The canteen, special rooms and health station are at the other end of the main block. Inside the main entrance, which is centrally located, are a large vestibule and a library. Offices for administration and teaching staff, as well as some rented-out office accomodation, are situated between the main entrance and the home-base areas.


Fig. 01

Fig. 122

Plan of main building and the gymnastics hall «Tolvkanten.» Borgen Community Centre, Asker. Architects for the renewal: HUS Arkitekter AS


123 Meeting places. The vestibule, canteen and gallery areas outside the home-base areas are open meeting places, see fig. 123.


Fig. 123

Fig. 03

Fig. 123

Internal communication area

Photo (left): Before renovation. Photo: B. Metusiak

Photo (right): After renovation. Photo: SINTEF Building and Infrastructure


124 Home-base areas. With pupils’ offices (base rooms), common areas, communication rooms (mini-auditoria) and group rooms, the design/layout closely resembles office accomodation. Each home-base area houses approx. 135 pupils. The basis groups comprise 15 pupils. Each home-base area has a separate entrance and cloakroom.

125 Specially-equipped areas. The school has a large and a smaller school kitchen, both of which are located next to the canteen. The arts-and-crafts area comprises large workshops with direct access to outdoor areas. The music room is located next to the canteen. The natural-science room, located adjacent to the home-base areas, also serves as general tuition areas. The library is accessed from the vestibule. The gymnastics hall is located in a separate building called «Tolvkanten» (Dodecagon)

126 Rooms for personnel. The teachers’ office accomodation is located in centrally placed team offices. Next to the library are six cubicles with computer equipment. The offices are booked and utilised in shifts by teachers, pensioners and others.

13 Energy-economy measures

In order to reduce the consumption of purchased energy, the strategy of trias  energetica has been employed, i.e. first introduce energy-saving measures, then utilise sources of renewable energy and, finally, cover the remaining demand by using effective peak-load and back-up boilers. The following energy-economy measures have been implemented:

– Public enterprises and private organisations share rooms and equipment. Floorage efficiency and adaptability are factors contributing towards low resource consumption for construction and operation in a life-cycle perspective.

– Roofs and facades have been upgraded with a view to thermal insulation and air-tightness.

– Daylight has been utilised in order to reduce the consumption of electricity for lighting purposes. Daylight sensors control the use of artificial lighting. Some rooms are equipped with zone-divided control of artificial lighting. Due to new standards for the dimensioning of snow loads, the roof had to be reinforced. The core construction was retained but has been reinforced with beams. The roof surface had to be replaced, and this provided an opportunity for daylight openings/skylights, see fig. 13. The window area in the facades was increased and the windows were upgraded with a view to thermal insulation and sun screening.

– The building is equipped with five separate ventilation systems to achieve short ducting lengths and low pressure drops in the ventilation ducts. The kitchen section and health sections are the only places with conventional ventilation systems. Otherwise natural and hybrid ventilation is employed. With natural and hybrid ventilation, natural forces such as buoyancy and wind are utilised to reduce the consumption of electricity for ventilation fans. Demand-controlled air rates and heat recovery further contribute towards energy economy.

– Geo-thermal heat is utilised with the aid of heat pumps for space heating, pre-heating of ventilation air and hot water. Under normal conditions the heat pump delivers sufficient thermal energy so that the oil-fired boiler for peak loads is only used for a few days during the winter months.


Fig. 13

Fig. 13

A wide, northwards-facing strip of glazing provides plentiful daylight to the building’s central zone. A narrow window strip facing south allows entry of some sunlight. The roof over the ventilation duct serves as a reflecting «light shelf.» Illustration: B. Matusiak


Eberg School in Trondheim – home-base areas in small landscapes

21 General

– Primary School, grades 1–7

– Completed in 1996

– Architects: Arkitektene Vis-A-Vis AS

– The school received an honourable mention at the distribution of the National School Building Award 1998. Quoting from the citation given by the panel of judges: «There is very good communication between the school’s various functions, as well as a clear and functional layout which facilitates orientation within the premises. The building has superior experience qualities with varied and exciting sequential space solutions, most attractive colour usage and a very high architectural standard.»


22 Floor plan

221 General. The building has a main floor, basement floor plus cellar.

222 Positioning of functions – main features. The main floor comprises a main block with three wings, see fig. 222. The main block houses the library, special rooms, and the teachers’ office accomodation. The home-base areas are situated in the side wings and at the end of the main block. The main entrance and the vestibule are located in the basement floor at the other end of the main block. Also in the basement floor are the gymnastics hall, rooms for administration and personnel room. The stairs and a large open amphitheatre connect the main floor and the basement floor.


Fig. 222

Fig. 222

Plan of main floor. Eberg School, Trondheim. Architects: Arkitektene Vis-A-Vis AS


223 Meeting places. The main passageway with furnished alcoves, as well as vestibule with amphitheatre are open meeting places, see fig. 223.


Fig. 223

Fig. 223

Main passage way with library to the left and home-base areas to the right. Photo: SINTEF Building and Infrastructure


224 Home-base areas. Two to four classes share a landscape. They each occupy their own corner with a common zone at the centre. Two classes share the entrance and cloakroom.

225 Specially-equipped areas. The arts-and-crafts rooms are situated next to the home-base area for grade seven, at one end of the main passageway. At the other end is the school kitchen. The library is located as a central, open alcove adjacent to the main passageway. The gymnastics hall is accessed via the vestibule.

226 Rooms for personnel. Offices for the administration, as well as the personnel room, lie in the basement floor. The teachers’ office accomodation is incorporated in team offices centrally placed on the main floor.


Røros School – open working area surrounded by group rooms

31 General

– Primary School, grades 1–4

– Completed in 2004

– Architects: Lusparken  Arkitekter AS


32 Floor plan

321 General. The building has two floors.

322 Positioning of functions – main features. The building comprises one main block and two wings, see fig. 322. The main block houses the teachers’ office accomodation, administration and common rooms. The home-base areas are located in the side wings. The main entrance leads into the administration section.


Fig. 322

Fig. 322

Ground-floor plan of. Røros School.

Architects: Lusparken Arkitekter AS


323 Meeting places. An open common area on the first floor of the main block comprises a kitchen and is furnished with dining places.

324 Home-base areas. One home-base area comprises a large open working area surrounded by group rooms of varying sizes, see figs. 324 a and b. Each home-base area has a separate entrance and cloakroom.


Fig. 324a

Fig. 324 a

Working area in home-base area. Photo: H. Hilmersen


Fig. 324b

Fig. 324 b

Home-base area. Ramps and stairs compensates for the difference in floor levels. The staircase functions as an amphitheatre.

Photo: H. Hilmersen


325 Specially-equipped areas. Apart from a kitchen, the school has no special rooms. A sports hall close by is used for physical education.

326 Rooms for personnel. The teachers’ office accomodation is incorporated in team offices located in the main block, close to the pupils’ home-base areas. The administration section lies at one end of the main block. The personnel room is located in the administration section on the first floor.


Heinävaaran koulu in Finland – home-base areas open towards common area

41 General

– Primary School, grades 1–7, and community centre

– Completed in 1999

– Architects: Cuningham Group Architecture, Minneapolis, USA

– Local materials and work force were used in the building process, and the school serves as a shop window for promoting local products. The structural work is executed in pine, while the floors, cladding and furnishings are mainly executed in birch and pine.


42 Floor plan

421 General. The building has only one floor.

422 Positioning of functions – main features. The building comprises a main volume and smaller, adjoining volumes, see figs. 422 a and b. The main volume has an open floor plan with home-base areas in a ring surrounding an open, public library and a mediateque equipped with computers. Smaller adjoining volumes contain gymnastics hall / community hall, special rooms and office accomodation for administration and personnel. Near the main entrance is a cloakroom, for use by everyone, and a spacious vestibule.


Fig. 422a

Fig. 422 a

Plan. Heinävaaran koulu, Finland. Architect: Cuningham Group Architecture, Minneapolis, USA


Fig. 11

Fig. 422 b

Middle zone. Open plan with distinct zones and communication lines. Photo: SINTEF Building and Infrastrukture


423 Meeting places. The vestibule and the central area with the library are open meeting places. A huge stove/fireplace standing in the vestibule (in the area with the dining places) provides warmth and gives the children an opportunity of learning how traditional Karelian food is prepared, see fig. 423.


Fig. 423

Fig. 423

Large stove/fireplace near the main entrance

Photo: SINTEF Building and Infrastructure


424 Home-base areas. The home-base areas are formed as alcoves along the central zone. Each basis group has its own alcove / base area. Each base area is open towards the central zone and separated from other base areas by a partition wall. Small group rooms are located between the base areas.

425 Specially-equipped areas. The combined gymnastics and community hall lies at one end of the building, near the main entrance and vestibule. A stage is located between the gymnastics hall and the vestibule. The kitchen is located next to the stage. The music room and arts-and-crafts room are located at the other end of the building.

426 Rooms for personnel. The administration and office accomodation are located collectively in an adjoining volume which has good access from the vestibule.


Hellerup School in Denmark – home-base areas in open landscape

51 General

– Primary and lower secondary school, grades 1–10

– Completed in 2002

– Architects: Arkitema KS (previously  Arkitektgruppen Aarhus)


52 Floor plan

521 General. The school building has three floors and parts of the roof are used as outdoor area.

522 Positioning of functions – main features. The school building has an untraditional floor-plan layout. It is extremely open both horizontally and vertically. The large, open stairway area in the centre of the building is called «Colosseum» and forms the heart of the school. The main access leads to the entrance hall which is called «Base camp». Here are the cloakrooms and here are the reception and open-plan café, see figs. 522 a and b.


Fig. 522a

Fig. 522 a

Floor plan of second floor. Hellerup School, Danmark.

Architects: Arkitema KS


Fig. 522b

Fig. 522 b

The central stairway. Photo: David Trood


523 Meeting places. In addition to being a communication artery, «Colosseum» is also a meeting place where many different activities such as group work, presentations and lectures take place.

The café, where teachers and pupils can intermingle, is on the ground floor next to the entrance hall. The school does not have its own large room solely for personnel.

524 Home-base areas. The school has nine home-base areas. These encompass the children’s base areas and the teachers’ office accomodation. They are furnished to suit the pupils’ ages, and each individual class has a high degree of freedom to characterise its own area.

The home-base areas comprise large and small room zones, and can be sub-divided with the aid of cupboards/cabinets, bookcases and screens.

Each home-base area incorporates four main functions:

– The «training zone» is situated along the outer wall. It is subdivided into three areas with the aid of moveable cabinets, bookcases and partitions. Class and group tuition is carried out here, as well as individual work.

– The «home base» is situated between the training zone and the building’s centre. Each home-base area contains three home bases, each is the assembly point for the class and is fitted out with a view to conversations, discussions and reading, see fig. 524.

– The «common surface» is situated innermost facing the building’s centre. This continuous floorage is subdivided by means of moveable storage furniture. Here there is room for group work and for gathering during breaks. Here each pupil has his/her own locker.

– A «mini-auditorium», situated centrally in each home-base area, is connected to the sitting groups on the common surface. The auditorium is bounded by a background screen.


Fig. 524

Fig. 524

Home-base. Photo: Anker Mikkelsen


525 Specially-equipped areas. «Kulinarium,» where food-and-health tuition is carried out, is situated right next to the café on the ground floor. Beside the café is «Kulturium,» with room and facilities for creative development regarding both practical and artistic fields. Also at ground level is «Forum,» a place for physical development and arrangements.

On the first floor is «Univers,» which is a place for information and work, for children and adults alike, with books and ICT equipment.

On the second floor is «Naturium,» which houses the natural-science subjects physics, chemistry and biology. Outside «Naturium» is a roof terrace with plants and a weather station. The second floor also houses rooms for technical subjects as well as «Maritime Centre» which has a view of the harbour and Øresund.

526 Rooms for personnel. In connection with the home-base area is «Tutorbiksen,» a common work room for the five or six teachers who are attached to a certain group of pupils. «Tutorbiksen» is the teachers’ base where meetings, conversations and much of the preparation work is undertaken. Each of the teachers has a cabinet on wheels. This cabinet is wheeled to the tuition area, and parked under the workbench in «Tutorbiksen» when the day is ended.

The administration is located near the entrance hall.


Hommelvik School in Sør-Trøndelag – large classrooms surrounding a common area

61 General

– Primary School, grades 1–7

– Completed in 2003. The comprehensive rebuilding of a dilapidated warehouse has resulted in a «new» school building.

– Architects: Lusparken  Arkitekter AS up until the tendering phase, Næss Arkitektkontor AS (now Link Signatur AS, Trondheim Dept.) for completion of the project.

– The school received an honourable mention in connection with Norway’s «Annual National award for Good Building and Environmental Design» in 2005. Quoting from the panel of judges citation: «Malvik Municipality took a remarkable step when they found their new school site by choosing a semi-central industrial area and warehouse from the 1980s in Hommelvik. This became the setting for the new school. This shabby warehouse has been transformed into a joyful and cheerful school where the industrial building’s headroom has provided airiness and openness. Daylight enters the school building in an attractive manner. The school precincts are in close proximity to the sports centre and the River Homla, and a footpath leads into the town centre. By this means, the small town has acquired a fine and central location for an important school and local-community facility».


62 Floor plan

621 General. The school building has two floors. The original warehouse comprised one large volume in an enclosed building with 7.2 m headroom. The constructional supports have been retained; the enclosed facades have been removed and replaced with new ones. Floors and roofs have been additionally insulated and floor slabs have been installed to form the first floor in one part of the volume. The original, high headroom has been retained in the school’s central common room.

622 Positioning of functions – main features. Surrounding the common room are the home-base areas and special rooms. The original warehouse building has been supplemented by two annexes which house home-base areas. An indoor traffic artery, popularly called «The diagonal,» connects all three building volumes, see figs. 622 a and b.


Fig. 622a

Fig. 17

Fig. 622 a

Floor plan of ground floor (top) and first floor. Hommelvik School, Sør-Trøndelag. Architects: Lusparken Arkitekter AS up until tendering phase, Næss Arkitektkontor AS (now Link Signatur AS, Trondheim Dept.) for completion of the project


Fig. 622b

Fig. 622 b

Cross-section after rebuilding


623 Meeting places. The central, open common area, called the «Central Room,» is a multi-functional room with twice the headroom. Part of the floor is sunken with seats along three sides. The fourth side (the floor in front of the music room) functions as a stage. The music room can be opened up towards the «Central Room» by means of wall elements that can be pushed aside. A gallery running along the «Central Room» functions as a lighting rig.

624 Home-base areas. Each home-base area is dimensioned for 50 pupils. The home-base areas in the original warehouse are separated, visibly and audibly, by an impervious wall which has a glazed section facing the ceiling and outer walls, see fig. 624. The home-base areas are furnished with moveable cabinets, shelf sections and screens that allow one to choose the required degree of openness between the groups. Each home-base area has a separate entrance and cloakroom.


Fig. 624

Fig. 20

Fig. 624

Left photo: The home-base areas’ group rooms are in the form of cubicles with various colours and décor. Photo: H. Solberg

Right photo: The picture shows the division between two home-base areas. The ceiling is curved upwards towards the façade to admit plenty of daylight. The glazed sections provide a certain amount of visual openness between the home-base areas. Photo: H. Hilmersen


625 Specially-equipped rooms. The music room plus the food-and-health room are situated on the ground floor, facing the «Central Room.» This is a favourable solution with a view to different arrangements where catering and performing may take place. One section of the «Central Room» is furnished as an open library, see fig. 625. Rooms for natural science and arts and crafts are situated on the first floor with access from the gallery.


Fig. 625

Fig. 625

Open section of library seen from the gallery. Photo: H. Hilmersen


626 Rooms for personnel. The teachers’ office accomodation, located collectively on the first floor, is designed as team offices. Personnel room and meeting room are also situated on the first floor together with the office accomodation. The administration is situated on the ground floor close to the main entrance and with direct stairway connection to the teachers’ office work places. A reception is situated in the vestibule, right outside the administration and easily visible from the main entrance.



71 Production

This guide was written by Karin Buvik and replaces the guide with the same number, issued in 1997. Henning Vik has been the project leader. Technical editing was completed in June 2009. English translation: David H Lovett MSTF


72 Bibliography

721 Buvik, Karin. Hommelvik skole i Sør-Trøndelag. Metamorfose – fra lagerbygg til skolebygg. Artikkel, Utdanningsdirektoratets nettsted. Oslo, 2005

722 Buvik, Karin. Hellerup skole i Gentofte kommune i Danmark – På jakt etter samspillet mellom virksomhet og fysisk utforming.  Artikkel, Utdanningsdirektoratets
nettsted. Oslo, 2004

723 Buvik, Karin. Miljøvennlige skoleanlegg – 5 skoler med tilknytning til programmet ØkoBygg. Læringssenteret (nåværende Utdanningsdirektoratet). Oslo, 2003

724 Mikkelsen, Anker. Et nyt og anderledes skoleprojekt. Artikkel i Pædagogisk Orientering 4–5, København, 2001

725 Florelius, Bente et al. Statens byggeskikkpris 2005. Juryens begrunnelse. Husbanken. Oslo, 2005

726 Howlid, Alf et al. Skolebyggprisen 1998. Norsk Form. Oslo, 1999

727 SKUB – Gentofte Kommunes Skoleutviklings- og utbygningsprosjekt fra 1998 til 2006. Fremtidens skole: Bygget på visioner. Interview med skoleleder Anker Mikkelsen, Hellerup skole. 2002



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Januar 2011 1.0 Elementary school buildings. Examples


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trekkes tilbake i forbindelse med revisjon av anvisning 342.205 og 342.207