Construction of the Kongsvinger School was recently completed along the Glomma, Norway’s longest river.
Comprising 11,360 square meters (more than 122,000 square feet), it is home to classrooms, a sports hall, a culture hall, and a library. And it 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,” said architect Marlies Levken of firm HLM Arkitektur. “We have received extremely positive feedback for the project from politicians, the city’s residents and, above all, the students.”
Levken said the building’s vibrant colors—particularly attributed to Steni Colour stone composite panels—have attracted praise, providing contrast to the calmer wood 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,” Levken said. “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 colors, shapes or structure,” says Lekven. “In fact, some of the Steni panels feature quotations contributed by the students.”
Levken said one creative measure the design team took was to use large, mirrored surfaces, both on the façade of the sports hall and under the ceilings around the entrances, which produces a very exciting effect in that the Steni panels under the ceiling look twice as big. And the mirrored façade of the sports hall reflects the surrounding forest.
Lekven thinks that Steni panels are great for school buildings. “They inspire creativity and are extremely robust and resilient,” she said. “And 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.”
As many as 490 students will attend the new Kongsvinger School, but it was constructed for 720, making it one of Norway’s largest secondary schools. “Our working mantra was ‘The small school in the big school,’” she said. “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.”
The new Kongsvinger School has been honored with the Building Practice Award, with the following citation: “The Building Practice Award is a prestigious award for the 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.
As a façade product range, Steni Colour includes 60 standard colors and three gloss levels, and almost any custom color based on NCS or RAL can be specified, enabling a designer limitless creative options and styles.
The panels are installed as ventilated cladding and can be installed at any time of year, irrespective of the temperature and weather. Steni façade panels are diffusion resistant, which means that they can remain submerged in water.
Steni Colour requires minimal maintenance and can be cleaned with most cleaning agents used to wash houses. With the proper cleaning agents, graffiti can be easily removed without ruining the panels. A pressure-washer can also be used on the panels.