The Children whished for a forest, while the municipality of Copenhagen wanted to integrate the schoolyard into the surrounding city. We have unwrapped the traditional schoolyard and invited the neighborhood into the forest pocket playground.
In the years up until the renovation of the schoolyard, Amager Fælled School had turned around from a school with a lot of social problems into a well-functioning school. The school was experiencing a great atmosphere and team spirit which was reflected in a growing number of pupils. While the school was seeing a lot of improvements on the social and learning aspects, the physical surroundings of large asphalt plains could not live up to the positive changes the school was going through. The improvements called for more outdoor space of a higher quality for the kids to learn and play in. Furthermore, the disadvantaged neighborhood of Sundholmen needed an upgrade on its urban green spaces. Altogether this called for a new way of thinking the schoolyard into the city fabric.
With a vision of bringing a larger number of different users together, the schoolyard has been transformed into a city park with different sport activities in the periphery surrounding an urban forest.
The activity zone is facing the city in an open, yet shielding manner. It is a public border formed by parts of the original red brick wall, smaller concrete retaining walls, wooden decks and a mix of pavements which surrounds the schoolyard. Permanent functions such as playground equipment and ball games are integrated into the border. Within the edge a sequence of terraces, niches and seating areas creates a coherent parkour track. This step by step transition between sidewalk and schoolyard is inviting in neighbors and random passers-by. The activity border gives Amager Fælled School its own and exceptional identity and makes the school a recognizable place.
The city forest in the core of the schoolyard is a wealth of large trees planted in raised planting beds with soft concrete edges. Within the forest plantings clearings makes space for smaller playing areas with stepping stones and timber wood on a gravel ground. The forest plantings make room for exploration both on the ground and between the canopies.
In collaboration with the artist Rene Schmidt a series of 22 smaller geometrical concrete sculptures have been placed throughout the forest schoolyard.
The project has taken form in a process with different workshops including the pupils from the school who have worked with their own ideas, wishes and inputs to the drawing up of the schoolyard project. Right from the beginning of the project, the parents and the kids have been active in gaining the local politicians interest for the project and explaining the need for a new schoolyard. The schoolyard project is built on a city renewal project and is developed in a dynamic collaboration between Thing Brandt Landskab, Nord Architects and architect Lene Nielsen from Copenhagen Municipality.
The new schoolyard for Amager Fælled School is a mixture of functionality and spatial design which combines different purposes throughout the day. The project has gained a lot of recognition as the first forest schoolyard using the large tree plantings as a main concept for an urban schoolyard. As well as the rethinking of the schoolyard from an introvert and enclosed pocket into an extrovert and including urban park.
Entrant office name: Thing Brandt Landskab
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape Architect, lead contractor
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Nord Architects & René Schmidt
Project location (Street, City, Country): Sundholmsvej, Copenhagen, Denmark
Design year: 2014
Year Built: 2015