0290 Herning Højskole

Renovation & conversion

Year: 2019
Location: Herning, Denmark
Size: Tower 2,000 m2, Base + House 3,700 m2
Status: Renovation & conversion completed 2022
Collaborators: Søren Jensen Rådgivende Ingeniørfirma

Herning Folk High School was built in 1960-1962 as a visionary and foresighted building, where work, culture, education, and accommodation constituted life. The building is a modernist masterpiece designed by the architects Tyge Arnfred and Viggo Møller-Jensen, with landscape design by the well-renowned architect, C. Th. Sørensen. The entire school was listed in 2018 including the surrounding landscape.

For 45 years the high school flourished in close interaction with the surrounding textile and carpet industry, from which the school had its origin. In the time after the school closure in 2007, the buildings were empty, then partly used for dorm rooms and smaller companies – in this period without a vision that exploits the full potential of the place, and the buildings in need of renovation.

Today the folk high school is owned by a foundation run by children of the original founders. SLETH is working with the foundation to formulate a new vision for the site, and to convert the former school into a hotel and cultural space. The renovations are based on the concepts ‘strategy of austerity’ and ‘virtues of modernism’, stated by Jens Thomas Arnfred, who is the son of Tyge Arnfred, and board member of the foundation. Thus, the conversion stays true to the original intentions: a cultural framework with the possibility of accommodation.

The work also involves to future-proof the physics of the buildings, and the surrounding landscape. The renovations are aligned with a sustainable business model, and a more energy-efficient building, making the maintenance and operation as a hotel feasible.

The tower of the complex will contain hotel rooms and apartments suitable for modern-day hotel accommodation including the shared spaces of the former collegial. For each room, new windows, new installations, new bathrooms, and new specially designed interior elements are created. The furniture is inspired by the original interior with focus on the Danish furniture tradition in the 50s and 60s.

The base of the complex will contain a wide range of cultural functions such as concert hall, lecture hall, education, dining, music room, workshops, and more.

The landscape architecture is a valuable example of low-key, unpretentious, and multi-use facilities, created with few means and in beautiful interplay with the building architecture. The new plan for the landscape uses the concepts of “reconstruction, renovation, and new” to accommodate the transition from folk high school to hotel. The character of the landscape must accommodate protection regulations, protection of the historical values, ​​and possess a high degree of robustness in daily use and future operation. The proposal for the future development of the landscape is based on historical documentation submitted through preserved original drawings and registration of site elements.

With the transformation, the spirit and architecture of the former folk high school will be highly recognizable and transformed into new use.