Sortedam School Interior Design

Putting identity and learning objectives on the walls

Client: Sortedam School
Our role: Focus group interviews, Engagement workshops, Concept development, Final design
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Year: 2015
Status: Completed

At Sortedam School, right by the Copenhagen lakes, arki_lab designed a new interior for the stairs and hallways, based on the students’ visions, spatial logistics, and school budget. The new approach captured the school's unique character and identity, as well as the learning objectives.

We kicked off the project with focus group interviews and made an online survey for all the users: students, teachers and administration. This led to two fundamental insights: Firstly, the school had a very interesting history. It was the first mixed gender school in Copenhagen and had many prominent alumni like the Danish natural science family (Niels, Harald & Aage) Bohr. Secondly, and somewhat shockingly, none of the pupils knew about this history! Furthermore, there was a lack of positive associations with the school. It was in a kind of identity crisis.

The concept design addressed both the school's rich history and incorporated the learning objectives and the curriculum. For example, the school's founder, Hanna Adler, once brought a cow into the classroom for the pupils to see, smell and touch. So we plastered a life-size cow on the wall, walking past the front door. We translated the concept into the final product by utilising the school's existing structures, such as hallways and staircases. The stairwell gave life to the spectrum of evolution, where you start with the Fibonacci sequence forming the world’s first seashells, ascending the steps past the evolution of animals and on to the evolution of humans.


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