Friluftsskolen Open-Air School


Friluftsskolen Open-Air School in Copenhagen, built in 1938, was designed with a focus on light, health, fresh air and proximity to nature. The design by the Danish architect Kaj Gottlob aimed to prevent the development of tuberculosis in children, reflecting health concerns of the period. The school was listed as a first-grade building in 1990 by the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces due to its architectural and pedagogical significance.
The building is characterised by its ceramic tiles, linoleum and asphalt floors, veneered doors, plastered walls painted in colours inspired by Le Corbusier’s colour palette, glass facades and window systems that could be ingeniously opened and provide ventilation. Functions were separated and grouped around a large inner courtyard. It is a masterpiece of functionalist school architecture.
Though the school remained in use, the building needed renovation. In 2016 a restoration project was undertaken, and it aimed to balance conservation values with the contemporary functional needs of a school for children with motor disabilities. The project has preserved and strengthened the original ideas about outdoor and indoor spaces, light and fresh air, and can serve as inspiration for other open- air schools.
Today, Friluftsskolen still functions as a school as well as a centre for after-school care for 38 pupils with mobility disabilities and related challenges. It demonstrates that it’s possible to modernise with a focus on quality, durability and social sustainability by creating an accessible school that ensures that pupils, therapists and teachers all can participate on an equal level in an environment that favours collaboration.
For these reasons, Friluftsskolen was honoured with the European Heritage Award/Europa Nostra Award in 2023.