A new international school in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district


The 25,000-sq.m. school campus in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district was officially opened in March 2017.

Copenhagen’s largest school has moved to its own peninsula in Nordhavn with a façade made up of solar panels.

March 6, 2017
  • SDG: #7, #11
  • SECTORS: Building, Infrastructure, Environment and Ecology, Ports & Marine
  • COUNTRIES: Denmark
  • DONOR: A.P. Møller, Novo Nordisk, Villum, Hempel, Augustinus and Orient.
  • CONTRACT VALUE: DKK 500 million

The new Copenhagen International School (CIS) campus lies nestled on its own little peninsula, with space for up to 1,200 students. The project costs amounted to approximately half a billion Danish kroner, the majority of which was funded by donations from various foundations.

The 25,000-sq.m. private school was built right on the edge of the harbour, and with four turquoise towers, it bears a resemblance to an oil tanker or one of the many huge container ships that have historically docked at the wharf.

Each of the campus’ four towers are between five to seven stories tall. They have been built asymmetrically above the main school building which contains the common facilities such as the library, cafeteria, theatre as well as several full-size indoor ball courts.

Each of the school’s four towers is characterised by a distinct identity, both in terms of a specific age group as well as a certain curriculum, giving the students therein a close sense of association with their educational environment.

Thomas Martin Nielsen, Director of Communications and Advancement at CIS

As a final touch, the schoolyard is an integrated rooftop terrace on top of the main building where the youngest students can play in a safe environment away from the water’s edge.

Older students, on the other hand, have the possibility to play on the football fields in front of the school which are integrated into a green park alongside the basin. Furthermore, a short walk down a series of steps and ramps leads straight to the water, allowing you to go for a dip in the sea.

A school for all of Nordhavn

Even though the facilities were built with the school’s students in mind, the promenade, park and ball courts will be open to the public. CIS’ potential as a local gathering point has been a key consideration in the design of the campus.

The façade of the new CIS campus is covered with 12,000 solar panels, providing more than half of the school’s annual power consumption and corresponding to the energy needs of roughly 70 single-family houses. The exact figure is one that the students will have the chance to calculate in maths and physics classes, as the solar panel data will be incorporated into the curriculum. Similarly, the school’s greenhouses at the top of its towers will also be used for educational purposes, with crops that can be examined in biology classes and turned into tasty dishes in home economics classes.

Education by the harbour

Given its vessel-like design, location by the wharf and availability of its premises and facilities to the surrounding community, the Copenhagen International School’s new campus resembles an even bigger version of Copenhagen’s most recent public school, Skolen i Sydhavnen (in English: the South Harbour School), a project which NIRAS was also a part of as consulting engineers.

Multi- and cross-functional planning

NIRAS provided the entirety of the engineering services relating to planning and technical supervision, including 3D constructions, electrical, BMS and plumbing and heating installations, ventilation, fire protection and security, ventilation and power, acoustics, environmental consulting, geotechnical work and harbour facilities, as well as the project management and development of the pioneering solar panel project and state-of-the-art lighting fittings.

A concrete example of specialist input is that NIRAS’ acoustics experts calculated and designed great acoustics into the school’s theatre, which can seat up to 400 people.

Copenhagen’s largest school

  • Copenhagen International School’s new 25,000-sq.m. campus can accommodate up to 1,200 students from ages 3-19.
  • It is the biggest school in Copenhagen and the biggest private school in Denmark (sharing the top position with Randers Realskole).
  • Designed by the architectural firm C.F. Møller and constructed by the Copenhagen International School Property Fund.
  • Inaugurated March 2017.

An international award for the unique architecture

The school won an award in the ‘Architecture with distinction’ category at the Iconic Awards 2017.

Iconic Awards is an international competition for architects and designers as well as the construction sector in general. It is the first neutral international architecture and design competition that is focused on the interplay between architectural disciplines.

Andrew Ferguson Dunn

Andrew Ferguson Dunn

Regional Director

Aarhus, Denmark

+45 3016 9262

Jan Østergaard Nielsen

Jan Østergaard Nielsen

Vice President

Aarhus, Denmark

+45 3084 3673

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