When Minerva Gymnasium was inaugurated, the vision was to create a unique school that distinguishes itself through its sustainable architecture and design. The goal was a passive house “castle" that allows the school’s operations to interact with nature and the community. The desire was to create a knowledge-building environment that stimulates the senses. With its perfect location near Umeå University, the building is already ready to serve students, educators as well as visitors, as a place for learning in an uplifting environment.
The architecture, which has been developed throughout the process, is inspired by the local conditions with a focus on the concept and the relationship between volumes that break out and create tension. Contact with nature is accentuated through sustainable materials and solutions, such as heat-treated wood and stainless steel. Each volume has its own identity through form and material.
Through the various volumes of the building, the architects have created an orderly and clear structure with places for social interaction and other public spaces on the ground floor and the classrooms on the upper floors, where hidden stairwells connect the various facilities in the school. Architecturally, the school's volumes rest on the social and transparent foundations holding the auditorium, café and restaurant. The classrooms and administrative spaces are reached from the core of the building, which also contains group rooms and working areas. Through the line of sight and large glass surfaces, the building is perceived as light and transparent.
The landscape architecture connects the school environment with the adjacent nature through hard, sleek surfaces closest to the building and then continues in soft undulating functional surfaces leading to the nature areas. The variation in the outdoor environment thus contributes to different characteristics in the landscape.
Thanks to a high level of ambition and a stimulating and creative collaboration with the client, the project has resulted in a beautiful and functional school building that works perfectly in its setting. The school, which was awarded the Sweden Green Building Council’s Silver Environmental Building Certification, has attracted international attention.