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State-of-the-Art New International School Building at Nordhavn 2150

Report from a sneak peek preview five days prior to the opening of the new CIS building starting with the spring term 2017, welcoming more than 900 children. A new location, which will enable the school to finally gather its two campuses.

By Bente D. Knudsen

Copenhagen’s new citadel Nordhavn has, on a personal note, been an area I have visited regularly for more than 25 years. In the first years, large parts of the area were still closed off to the curious public, as it amongst other comprised the toll free zone, Copenhagen Free Port Area, in Danish known as Frihavnen.

It was a vast industrial area – mainly based on shipping with the large port areas and basins, as well as small secret coves and fishing harbours, tiny inns and eateries, and of course the impressive Paustian furniture building and restaurant and quay area. Therefore, the whole area was wonderfully intriguing to explore on bicycle to a young Copenhagen newcomer.

Since then a lot has changed, the Free Port no longer exists, and Copenhagen City, together with By&Havn (who own the area), are developing it into a new citadel, Nordhavn 2150 – with a Metro line, apartments, office buildings, the UN city, Unicef ware house and office, cruise terminal, and now also the new Copenhagen International School location.

According to By&Havn the whole area will be a building site for the next many years with the different parts finished gradually such as the Metro in 2019. The area around the new school called Levantkaj Vest  has been developed since 2013 when the local plan for the area was approved.

I take my bicycle in the good Danish spirit of things, despite heavy winds and threatening rain clouds, and seek out this new school.

Arriving in the rather chaotic area of building activity, I cannot find any signs leading to the school, however, as I get closer, I cannot avoid seeing it in the distance.

A huge building, many floors high, rises above the surroundings, standing out in the area. From the outside, it looks like boxes of containers placed on top of each other, not aligned but in a random order, which fits quite well to the container terminal still at work behind the school.

According to By&Havn the terminal will be moved to another area latest in 2021, however I think the architects must have been inspired by it. The building is located right on the waterfront, literally as a half island surrounded by water.

The activity to get bicycle and pedestrian paths ready for the many children is hectic outside on Stubbeløbsgade, the street, which will lead to the school for the next couple of years. However, the bicycle parking rails in front of the school are in place, so I park and cross the entrance bridge to the school – full of curiosity.

The meeting takes place in the canteen area, a large hall spanning several floors in the middle of the building – built not only for meals, but also as a meeting place and study area for the teachers, students and parents. It lies literally along the waterfront with huge windows and a stunning view. Even on this not so bright January morning, the area is full of light.

Light is actually what strikes one most with this new school building, large windows dominate all rooms, hallways and their window niches, most of them with stunning water views.

Even on the darkest most gloomy winter day, it must be difficult to get a winter depression here.

The school director Jennifer Weyburn is naturally very excited about the new building and the opportunities it represents. “It is the epitome of the best of Danish Design,” she says, “No details have been spared to create the most sustainable building possible.”

The outside façade is covered by beautiful blue greenish tiles, which turn out to be solar panels supplying the school with 50 percent of the energy needed.

The facilities are second-to-none, with an indoor sports hall for each of the school’s sections, primary, middle and high school, a huge theatre, library and music rooms, as well as outdoor sports facilities, including a running track.

Inside the activity is also hectic with the many preparations to get the school as finished as possible for the opening of the spring term. Looking around I wonder how that will be possible but the workers, busy with assembling the classroom tables (specially designed for the school), are amazingly calm. “No worries” they answer with a big smile when questioned. “We will get them all ready. “

The building of the new school has been delayed by a change in building entrepreneur, so some finishing will have to be done during the first term and in the winter and spring break the staff informs.

However, the excitement of finally having one building to greet all age groups and classes, in what can only be called a state of the art building, shines from every staff member, several who are spending days and nights to get everything ready.

“We are so excited about seeing the school children’s expressions when they see the school the first time, and hearing their first impressions,” several say.

Copenhagen International School was established in 1963 and runs the international IB program. For many years it has been located in Hellerup but as of January 2017 is located on Levantkaj in the Nordhavn 2150 district. The new state-of-the-art school building has been made possible by donations from several of the large Danish corporate foundations.

Nordhavn 2150 is a new district developed in the former Nordhavn industrial area and consists of five areas being developed. The Aarhusgade kvarteret Vest, Marmormolen, Trælastholmen, Amerika Plads, and Levantkaj Vest. The areas are owned by CPH city and port development (By&Havn). CPH City and Port Development is owned jointly by the City of Copenhagen(55 percent) and the Danish Ministry of Transport (45 percent). CPH City and Port is in charge of developing the areas it owns. You can find more information on their Nordhavn site here . The new international school is located in the Levantkaj Vest area. More information on their site here