Faroe University’s Mass Timber Plan Salutes Ancient Traditions

Internationally recognised Henning Larsen studio secures architectural commission for CLT and Glulam inspired design.

Wed 26 Jul 23


The University of the Faroe Islands has selected Henning Larsen’s master plan following an international competition that included BIG, Cobe, and three other designs from leading firms.

The commission, to be finalised in 2026, was given to the architects behind the World of Volvo and the “Climate Positive” Danish school made of straw and mass timber. 

The studio, which in 2019 was awarded the European Prize for Architecture, will create a group of low-rise structures covering an area of 8,000 square metres.

A Site Plan provided by Henning Larsen (Image Credit: Henning Larsen).

A square centre “heart” courtyard feature will join the low-rise structures. 

The plan envisions a neighbourhood which offers natural protection, honouring the Faroese custom of “reading the landscape.” 

The primary construction materials will include glulam and CLT. (Image Credit: Henning Larsen).

A “street” and a central staircase inside the courtyard promote community and belonging. 

According to Henning Larsen, a modular facade solution that more effectively incorporates the rotation of biophilia throughout the design will be preferred.

The vision, according to the studio’s Design Director and Partner Ósbjørn Jacobsen, “draws inspiration from historic Faroese construction methods and the mass timber buildings of the past while offering the University of the Faroe Islands a modern campus that blends seamlessly into the landscape and its varied context.”

The current campus at Torshavn in the Farcoe Islands. (Image Credit: Hanning Larsen).
The Faroe Islands are home to some of world’s oldest timber buildings

Mass timber, including glulam and CLT, will be the primary construction materials in the building’s construction.

To respectfully blend with the landscape of Torshavn, the buildings will be topped with a turfed roof, paying homage to the beauty of its surroundings.

The central courtyard space is walled and covered by buildings on all sides, giving the ideal circumstances for outdoor activities. 

This protection allows for Torshavn’s frequently changing weather, often encountering all seasonal weather conditions in one day. 

The building’s northern and southern elevations utilise urban greening, incorporating façade modules to support year-round plant growth. 

Some of the world’s oldest functioning timber buildings can be found on the Faroe Islands. (Photo Credit: Hemming Larsen).

This facade component integrates vertical nature as an integral aspect of the building design rather than an afterthought with its aesthetic and structural advantages.

“Using wind and sun simulations,” Jakob Strømann-Andersen said, “we have positioned the building volume so it is protected from the elements.” 

The studio will transform the parking lot into a new green community space, sheltered from the strong Northwestern winds dominating Torshavn. 

“In this way,” Jakob Strømann-Andersen said, “we add 150 days to the comfortable outdoor season and create the best possible conditions for outdoor life in one of the harshest campus locations in the world.” 


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