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Architects from Hawkins\Brown visit Christi Krybbe School in Bergen to gather pupils’ perspectives on how the new school building and renovations ought to be designed, 6-7. March 2024 

Michael Riebel from HawkinsBrown and a teacher from Christi Krybbe talk with students about their drawings of a 'dream school'.

Michael Riebel from Hawkins\Brown and a teacher from Christi Krybbe talk with students about their drawings of a ‘dream school’.

Pupils from the 2nd and 6th grades at Christi Krybbe Primary School participated in a two-day workshop to envision their dream school buildings and grounds, led by Michael Riebel and Justin Bean, two architects from the London-based Hawkins\Brown practice. The school, which is the oldest primary school in the Nordic countries, is beautifully situated in the heart of Bergen, bordered by the harbor and UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, Bryggen, on one side and by Mount Fløyen on the other side.  

The school is currently facing challenges due to its aging buildings and a small and fragmented school area, and anti-social behaviour in the centrally-located school grounds outside of school- hours. The city council, in collaboration with the school management, is working on a plan to renew the school. While the school currently has two main buildings, the increasing number of pupils over the years has led to the inclusion of additional surrounding buildings in the school area. Consequently, the school yard has become fragmented, and the outdoor play space for the students does not meet the standards for schools. To document the school’s current condition and gather the students’ perspectives on their ideal school, the architects from Hawkins Brown conducted a two-day workshop. Approximately 60 pupils from the 2nd and 6th grades participated in the project. 

Football Pitch, Ice Cream Bar, and Roof Over the Swings  

Throughout the workshops, students contributed in creative ways through various activities, working in groups and using large papers to draw their ideas, similar to how professional architects work. In the “Drawing Your School” activity, pupils were provided with a bird’s-eye view map of the two main buildings and surrounding school grounds. Their task was to highlight their favorite spaces by showing how they currently look and then redesigning them to reflect their desired improvements. As part of the task, pupils visited these spaces to gather patterns and small objects, employing a frottage technique—a process of rubbing oil pastels over paper placed on a textured surface to capture the pattern. The room was buzzing with creativity as students returned to embellish the map with dream features like ice cream shops and swimming pools, as well as realistic and practical proposals such as upgrading the football pitch and adding roofs over the swing sets. 

SPACE as part of the SENSE. Project  

Christ Kyrbbe students explore the textures of their school grounds with the ‘frottage’ technique.

The workshop also explored questions such as how different spaces affect feelings, stimulate learning, and how pupils use the school spaces throughout the day and after school. These inquiries were particularly relevant to the architects. Hawkins\Brown is a partner in the Horizon EU project “SENSE. The New European Roadmap to STEAM Education”, coordinated by Høgskulen på Vestland (HVL), and Michael Riebel leads a work package SPACE exploring the role and importance of spatial ambiance and its impact on individuals in educational settings. With extensive experience in planning new schools in the London area and conducting numerous student workshops, Justin Bean collaborated with Riebel at Christi Krybbe School to glean a wealth of ideas and understand what matters most to students of all ages. This democratic process, where every voice counts, is a foundational principle of the SENSE. Project. The workshop’s findings will be compiled into a report to be submitted to policymakers at the Bergen City Council. Hopefully, in a few years’ time, the ideas generated during the workshop will be visible in an upgraded Christi Krybbe School.