New Architecture School Opens in Aarhus
6. October 2021
Photo: Ramus Hjortshøj
The inauguration of the new Aarhus School of Architecture — the first ever new building for a school of architecture in Denmark — was held on October 4, followed a few days later by a two-day architecture festival with the title "Opening: Staying with the Trouble."
The opening of the school comes six years after the competition to determine the architect of the new building announced its first shortlist, one with three big names: BIG, Lacaton & Vassal, and SANAA. But instead of any of those architects winning the competition, the commission was given to newcomers, one of a trio of teams added to the competition in 2016. The team of Vargo Nielsen Palle (the newly established practice of Brian Vargo, Jonas Snedevind Nielsen, and Mathias Palle), in collaboration with ADEPT, Rolvung og Brøndsted Arkitekter, Tri-Consult and Steensen Varming, was selected unanimously by the jury in March 2017.
The opening of the "New Aarch" on the Godsbanearealerne (a former railway yard) is a big deal not only because it's the first new building for an architecture school in Denmark. Since its founding in 1965, the Aarhus School of Architecture occupied an old merchant's house at Nørreport 20, what was supposed to be a temporary accommodation. The school expanded into no less than ten other buildings in the ensuing years, clearly leading to the need for new facilities by the time the competition finally happened. The new building consolidates the school, obviously, while also providing the fabrication and other facilities the school needs, and allowing for flexibility over time through building's raw, open structure.
Photo: Ramus Hjortshøj
The October 4 inauguration of the New Aarch was attended by HRH The Crown Prince, who wielded a hammer and hit a Hi-Striker to open the school with the ring of the bell; or as the school put it, he agreed to "strike a blow for architecture - literally." On October 7 and 8, the school is hosting Opening: Staying with the Trouble, a sold-out architecture festival that celebrates the move into the new building and makes an "appeal to current and future practitioners of the architecture profession to jointly formulate a viable path into the challenges of the Anthropocene." The two-day festival features keynotes, talks, panel debates and project presentations by Eyal Weizman, Andrés Jaque, and Anupama Kundo, among numerous others. The school opened in 1965, "during a time characterized by activism, hope and rebellion," and now, with the move to a new building, the faculty and staff are seeing if "the activistic approach of '65 [can] be continued in a meaningful manner." It looks like the roots of the school should remain in the new building.