Façade panels and wood – where the urban meets the forest

“The fresh green colour of the Steni panels gives the school an urban and playful expression, and forms an exciting contrast with the solid pine façade,” says Marlies Lekven, an architect at HLM Arkitektur. Using the forest as inspiration, she has designed a new secondary school in Kongsvinger. The project has given the whole city a boost.

The new Kongsvinger School covers 11,360 square metres and is home to classrooms, a sports hall, a culture hall and a library. It enjoys a wonderful setting right on the banks of the Glomma River, and is more than just a school – the project has been designed with all the residents of Kongsvinger in mind.

“It is an area for play, recreation, sport and cultural experiences – the school will not close at the end of the school day. We have received extremely positive feedback for the project, from politicians, the city’s residents and above all the students. The building’s vibrant colours have attracted particular praise,” says Lekven.

Kongsvinger School has been designed for activity.

Green and urban

The Steni panels are responsible for the vibrant colours, which contrast with the calm wooden façade.

“The forest has been the main inspiration for our work, and the Steni panels have allowed us to play with shades of green and yellow. We also wanted an urban feel on the ground floor, and once again the Steni panels delivered exactly what we were looking for. Two major advantages of Steni panels are that they have very good corner details, and that there are no limits to creativity when it comes to colours, shapes or structure,” says Lekven.

The cladding on the school building is a combination of wood, green panels and reflective façades.

Urban meets nature in the combination of wood and green Steni Colour panels.

Façade panels with quotations

Some of the Steni panels feature quotations contributed by the students.

“Everything was delivered ready-to-install and everything fitted together seamlessly,” says Lekven.

“One creative measure we took was to use large mirrored surfaces, both on the façade of the sports hall and under the ceilings around the entrances. This produces a very exciting effect, and means that the Steni panels under the ceiling look twice as big . The mirrored façade of the sports hall also means that the building reflects the surrounding forest

Printing can be superimposed on Steni façade panels. Kongsvinger School has taken advantage of this feature by printing quotations from the students on the façade.

Great for schools

Lekven thinks that Steni panels are great for school buildings.

“Firstly, they encourage creativity, and also the panels are extremely robust and resilient. Plus they come with a 60-year warranty. I am currently working on a new school in Stavanger, where we are also using Steni Colour on parts of the façades,” she explains.

As many as 490 students will attend the new school, but it is dimensioned for 720, making it one of Norway’s largest secondary schools.

“Our working mantra was ‘The small school in the big school’. The architecture creates safe ‘home zones’ for each school year. The students have helped develop the concept, not least all the wonderful and exciting artwork. This has been an incredibly rewarding project to work on!” enthuses Lekven.

Steni panels are great for school buildings. Firstly, they encourage creativity, and also they are extremely robust and resilient. Plus they come with a 60-year warranty.​ Marlies Lekven, HLM Arkitektur​

Winner of the Building Practice Award

The new Kongsvinger School has been honoured with the Building Practice Award, with the following citation: “The Building Practice Award is a prestigious award for Kongsvinger School and its new facilities, which through their execution, use of materials and interaction with the location and the environment help to elevate, renew and develop general building design.”

The building has also been nominated for the Building of the Year and Wood Construction of the Year awards.

Kongsvinger School has received the Building Practice Award and has been nominated for several other awards.