NEW AARCH - a new school for Aarhus School of Architecture

Visualisation as seen from Carl Blochs Gade

Aarhus School of Architecture is to be moved from its previous location at Nørreport to Godsbanearealerne (areas formerly used by the Danish national rail company) in Aarhus which are expected to become the new creative center of the city.

When Aarhus School of Architecture was founded in 1965 it was supposed to be temporarily accommodated in the old merchant's house on Nørreport 20. Fifty years later the main address of the school is still Nørreport 20 and today the school is spread out among ten different addresses. Apart from the thereof following challenge, the general physical framework has become outdated compared to the school's educational and research related needs.

Therefore, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, Aarhus School of Architecture, Aarhus Municipality and the Danish Building and Property Agency have agreed to build a new school of architecture on the Godsbanearealerne.

The desirable building is one that is both robust and flexible, wherein the school will be able to adjust to future requirements and needs easily – including new teaching methods and varying numbers of students, which are quite common circumstances for an architecture school. The school imagines a structure that is raw, flexible and resembling the structure of fabrication facilities and that gives staff and students great opportunity to experiment and to challenge the architecture of the future. It is desirable that physical framework shall no longer be a limitation on opportunities for development.

Born through dialogue

NEW AARCH was born through a project model that emphasizes asking the industry for advice, being open to innovative ideas and including professionally relevant skills as early as possible. The dialogue has initially managed to make room for the physical framework to be challenged and rethought both architecturally and functionally. Simultaneously, it has also granted the wish for an early budgetary certainty for the project. The process has been made up of a two-phase competition process containing first an international, open design competition, and secondly a traditional restricted design competition.

In spring 2016 the Danish Building and Property Agency carried out the design competition and appointed three winners: Atelier Lorentzen Langkilde (Denmark), Vargo Nielsen Palle (Denmark) and Erik Giudice Architects (Sweden/France). They were subsequently asked to establish a complete team of consultants consisting of architects, engineers and landscape architects. Also, they were invited to participate in the restricted design competition on par with three prequalified teams, making a total of six participating teams in the competition. The prequalified teams were the architects BIG (Denmark), Lacaton & Vassal (France) and SANAA (Japan).

The restricted design competition was initiated on August 1, 2016, and on March 17, 2017 an unanimous jury published the winners of NEW AARCH. Rather than the established and internationally recognized teams, the newly established Vargo Nielsen Palle and ADEPT, with whom they had teamed up, were given the task in cooperation with their interdisciplinary team consisting of Rolvung & Brøndsted Arkitekter, Tri-Consult and Steensen Varming.

Subsequently the Danish Building and Property Agency entered a contract with the team of consultants behind the project. Since then the project has been processed and has become detailed through dialogue with the school's students and employees.

In April, 2018 the turnkey contract was assigned to the entrepreneurs A. Enggaard A/S by the Danish Building and Property Agency. The agency's full-service consultant ADEPT and their sub-consultants Tri-Consult, Steensen Varming and Lendager Arkitekter have been entrusted to the entrepreneur as its consultants.


Upon the dialogue with the consultancy industry the Danish Building and Property Agency wanted to continue the dialogue with the entrepreneur industry.

Thus in spring 2017 the agency initiated a more extensive market dialogue with benchmarking entrepreneurs of the industry and also sought inspiration from various bigger client organisations. Based on the dialogue and inspiration, the Danish Building and Property Agency has developed a project model by the name NEW PARTNERING.

Through this model the agency wishes to create a transparent business environment and to optimize the construction process and the project through establishment of a cooperation based on dialogue, trust and openness. It is also a desire to do so through early inclusion of the knowledge of all parties, their skills and their acquaintance with the market.

One expected outcome is that the framework for both economy and time will be complied and that the finished project will live up to the expectations and qualities present at the offset of the project. The outcome should be reached through early settlement of conflicts and risks related to time, economy and quality of the project.

Along with faith in architectural ambitions and constructability not being opposites, the overall goal is to achieve as high quality as possible within the project and to prioritize value for money in cooperation with the relevant holders of skills.