Gone are the days of trying to hide unsightly solar panels. At the Copenhagen International School – Nordhavn, solar panels are part of the aesthetic. There, 12,000 blue-green photovoltaics cover almost the entire exterior, adding unique architectural details at once functional and eye-catching.
Solar power is responsible for more generating more than half of the school's electricity. That’s no small feat, so when architecture firm C.F. Møller took the project on, it was all about incorporating the panels into the design. To do that the Swiss research institute École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne was called upon to make custom panels that would be powerful, but also beautiful. Each panel incorporates particles of blue-hued glass on its surface, and is “individually angled to create a sequin-like effect.”
But it’s not just the solar panels that are so amazing at this school. The main building at Copenhagen International School – Nordhavn is broken up into multiple towers that meet specific needs of various developmental stages for “Early Years, Primary School Middle School and High School.” Classrooms for young children are designed extra-large to account of all the various activities taking place therein, including green spaces, physical education, and performance space.
All the towers sit atop a common ground floor with a cafeteria, library, sports facilities and performance spaces. A large promenade outside of the school offers space for stretching out or recreation. Why didn’t my elementary school have anything so cool?
The amount of solar panels on this school make the project one of Denmark’s biggest building-integrated solar power plants in the country.
“We are proud that through the construction of the school, we will be able to take the lead and set a good example by showing how you can integrate innovative architecture into the curriculum,” Brit van Ooijen, Chair of the Board for Copenhagen International School, told DANISH. "Our aim is to strengthen the student’s competencies in an international environment so they will become competent world citizens with a focus on sustainability.”
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To that end, the school’s sustainability goals hardly end with solar panels. The design also includes high insulation values, a green roof, LED lights, natural ventilation, high insulation values, rainwater harvesting, and much more.
Toilets utilize secondary water for flushing, while sensors control all water faucets and lights. Biological waste from the kitchen is fed to a bio tank and reused to feed animals. And perhaps most impressive, carbon dioxide and temperature levels are monitored by sensors and adjusted to save energy and optimize comfort.
Funding for this gorgeously sustainable feat was secured through private donations, financial reserves within the school, and bank loans.