The Faroe Islands are located smack-dab in middle of the harsh North Atlantic, just north of Scotland, southeast of Iceland, and northwest of Denmark (the country to which it officially belongs). This rocky cluster may seem like an unlikely setting for a futuristic college campus, but that’s exactly what the country’s own Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has just created there.
The architects describe the new Glasir Tórshavn College succinctly as being “located on the undulating fjords of Faroe Islands, with views to the capital Tórshavn, the sea, and verdant fells. Glasir seeks to harvest the [combined] efficiencies of [the] Faroe Islands Gymnasium, Tórshavn Technical College, and the Business College of Faroe Islands into one building for over 1,750 students, teachers, and staff.”
Conceptually, the college aims to retain the identity and autonomy of each of its three educational arms while providing spaces that overlap and encourage interaction, multi-disciplinary learning, and the building of communities. This is achieved by stacking each of the schools on top of each other in concentric circles, with additional spaces for administration and recreation interspersed between the layers. Rather than be envisioned as a typical school environment, the college is thought of more as an incubator for ideas, much like modern tech campuses.
Externally, the building appears both sculptural and modern. Glazing is the order of the day, whether it’s the circular volume that protrudes upwards from the undulating landscape or the rectilinear wings that shoot out from its base into the surroundings. In fact, all of the college’s facades are glazed, with structural trusses being used to help to define the silhouette. The building’s external terraced arrangement is echoed internally, allowing for a cross-pollination of students from different disciplines and years to occur naturally.
BIG says of the campus: “Cascading across several levels, the stepped topography merges the multistory building into a single entity. At the top levels, the high school and business school cantilever towards the mountain range and moorland landscapes, creating a building that opens towards the city in all directions. The outer backdrop to the stunning Faroese landscape surrounding the education center is always visible, from the courtyard and classrooms to the gymnasium and library.”
Students and teachers alike benefit from the incredible and expansive views out towards the ocean and back across the landscape, all courtesy of the glazing and the orientation afforded by both the central cylinder and its protruding wings. The dramatic entrance via a bridge that crosses over the length of the sloping site gives all that enter a taste of what’s to come, with each wing demarcated by a different-colored glass for easy navigating.