Feldballe: Timber and Straw for Climate-Positive Danish School

Danish school opts for Timber, Straw, and Eelgrass over Concrete, Brick, and Steel

Sat 06 May 23


The Feldballe School extension is an example of climate-positive architecture in action. Located in Rønde, Denmark and designed by Henning Larsen, this 250m² (2700ft²) project focuses on science education for students growing up amid the climate crisis. Henning Larsen is behind Ørestad Church redevelopment, featuring wooden roof domes and a new mass timber centre for Volvo.

Recently featured on Arch Daily, the Danish philanthropic organisation Realdania and EcoCocon supported the project, combining cutting-edge innovation with environmental sustainability.

Henning Larsen won the European Prize for Architecture in 2019. Last month the project was covered by @STIRworld

The extension showcases sustainable building materials, such as straw, timber, and eelgrass, using bio-based alternatives to conventional construction materials like concrete, brick, and steel. The studio explains, “These materials, which sequester rather than emit carbon dioxide, are viable alternatives to concrete, brick, and steel. They are completely free of toxic chemicals, fire-safe, and provide efficient insulation and an excellent indoor climate.”

The Site Plan courtesy of Henning Larsen

In an interview with Dezeen, lead architect Magnus Reffs Kramhøft discussed the project’s educational value: “At the core of this project is an investment in education. We wanted to show the school pupils that there is a better way to build and that it’s possible to design a non-toxic building.”

An aerial view of the school. (Photo credit: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST)

The Feldballe School extension has the potential to inspire other schools and communities, emphasizing the importance of sustainable architecture and eco-innovation in combating the climate crisis.

Recent University of Bath research indicates that straw in select applications is durable, affordable, and commercially viable. Footage courtesy of EcoCocon – Staw Wall Systems @Ecococon

Azure Magazine highlights that the project surpassed Danish standards by achieving a footprint of 6kg of CO2e per m² per year over a 50-year lifespan. The studio adds that, for comparison, “the European average amounts to between 500 to 1,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide per square metre.”

Timber lines the school’s exterior. (Photo credit: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST)

Henning Larsen emphasizes the positive impact of the natural materials used in the extension: “The natural materials give the extension a warm, welcoming expression. As there is no need for large ventilation ducts or suspended ceilings, the rooms are spacious and high-ceilinged. So far, the choice of materials has proven conducive to a healthy and pleasant learning environment for students and teachers.”

Azure Magazine further explains the benefits of the unique construction materials: “The permeable characteristics of straw allow humidity to escape, while the clay plaster interior walls support diffusion qualities, contributing to a healthier indoor climate.”

Timber is also featured extensively in the school’s interior. (Photo credit: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST)

Situated in the eco-community of Friland, the school aims to foster a generation of thinkers, leaders, and community members dedicated to creating a more sustainable world. Jakob Strømann-Andersen, the studio’s director of innovation, underscores the significance of proactive measures in architecture: “We know that we cannot wait for policymakers to push the green agenda; we must confront the weight of our design decisions head-on, altering our practices, improving ourselves, and advancing our industry.”

The Feldballe School extension demonstrates that the future of sustainable architecture lies in innovative designs and materials that prioritize the environment, the community, and future generations. By incorporating groundbreaking elements such as straw, timber, and eelgrass, this project establishes a new benchmark for eco-friendly construction.


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