Pupils and staff from several schools were interviewed to understand what factors contribute towards a successful educational environment. The student response was that they wanted a safe, open meeting place full of social activities where the outside world was made visible – and vice versa. When asking the question; what makes a school attractive? An answer that came from the design team focused on two aspects: out-of-hours activities that make the school a useful wider community asset, as well as the flexibility for the building to adapt to future trends. It is these aspects that form the building blocks of long-term sustainability.
The starting point for the design was by asking the question; what it is that makes a school attractive?Klara Frosterud, Project Architect
Instead of the standard higher secondary school, the idea of a creative knowledge centre took seed. Messingen incorporates two secondary schools; Väsby Nya Gymnasium and Peabskolan; alongside the municipal music school and the central public library. One common entrance hall is used for these knowledge based activities, in addition to shared spaces for events, performance and sports, as well as a café and restaurant.
Somewhat unusually, Messingen also provides a waiting room for rail commuters travelling from Upplands Väsby mainline station, while its café hosts local authority meetings outside school lunch and break times. Messingen is a place that strengthens relationships between students, professionals, local community and commuters, embedding the school as a much-loved mixed-use building for all.
On the inside, Messingen has a rich interior with varied environments that stimulate learning, activities and ideas. To support different forms of educational, group rooms, open learning environments and traditional classrooms allow students and teachers choose the most suitable learning style for them.
Perforated copper plates with varying transparencies accent the exteriors of the simple cubic volume. These provide shade, colour and contrast against generous portions of façade glazing.
A healthy building
High sustainability goals were set early in the project. These aimed to create the ultimate environment to support health, wellbeing and social interaction, as well as lowering energy consumption and environmental impact. The plants occupying the sedum roofs capture and filter a significant proportion of acid rain that would otherwise end up in the water table. Sedum roofs also play a part in controlling a temperate indoor climate, while absorbing air pollutants, dampen noise and slowing surface water run-off. The compact building volume is energy efficient, minimising the quantity of material used across the façades.