BIG completes Glasir education centre in Faroe Islands' capital
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

BIG completes vortex-shaped Glasir education centre in Faroe Islands' capital

Danish studio BIG has completed a sculptural, glass-walled building containing three schools beside a fjord in the Faroe Islands' capital Tórshavn.

Described by BIG as a "vortex", Glasir comprises five levels that wrap around a central courtyard, before projecting as cantilevers that overlook surrounding landscape.

The building, which measure 19,200 square metres, contains three different schools and facilities for 1,750 people.

Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

"Glasir retains the autonomy and individual identity for each of the three schools, while creating ideal conditions for collaboration and learning to flourish — an incubator for innovation rather than a traditional school setting," explained the architecture studio, which is led by Bjarke Ingels.

"The building is organised like a vortex, with each level opening up and the top levels radiating 30 metres out towards the mountainous landscape."

Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Inside, the building dedicates one level to each of the three schools: Faroe Islands Gymnasium, Tórshavn Technical College and the Business College of Faroe Islands.

There is also a level designated for shared food and faculty spaces, and another for fitness and social gatherings. The levels project outwards, and are aligned with the stepped topography of the site.

Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

To retain focus on this sculptural form, BIG designed Glasir's external finishes from glass and aluminium.

The glass panels are staggered and have a sawtooth form. They are teamed with a grass roof intended to help the building blend in with the Faroese landscape over time.

Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Glasir is accessed by a bridge, which provides access across the steep slope of the site. It leads into a large circular courtyard, which forms the heart of the building.

Like the building's exterior, this courtyard is designed as an extension of the surrounding landscape, and it is intended as a "natural gathering point" across all levels within the building.

Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

The courtyard measures 32 metres in diameter. It features staggered steps that can be used for meetings and dining, while doubling as auditorium-like seating for larger events.

Above the atrium is a giant skylight, flooding the space with daylight, while protecting it from the harsh Faroese climate.

Glasir is complete with interior finishes that combine a selection of stone, cast concrete and wood, while the partitions between the classrooms and courtyard are complete in coloured glass.

Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

BIG won a competition to build Glasir in 2009. Designed in collaboration with Fuglark, Lemming & Eriksson, Rosan Bosch, Samal Johannesen, Martin E Leo and K J Elrad Radgevandi Verkfroendingar, it was dubbed as the largest ever project to be built on the islands.

Since, the Faroe Islands has seen a number of other developments, including a town hall and a cave-like hotel extension both by Henning Larsen.

Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Founded in 2005 by Bjarke Ingels, BIG is a Copenhagen and New York architecture studio.

Other recent projects by the studio include a concept for floating villages, a proposal for Oakland A's baseball stadium in California and a copper university building in Massachusetts.

Photography is by Rasmus Hjortshoj.


Project credits:

Architect: BIG
Partners-in-charge: Bjarke Ingels, Finn Nørkjær, Ole Elkjær Larsen
Project Architect: Høgni Laksáfoss
Team: Alberte Danvig, Alejandro Mata Gonzales, Alessio Valmori, Alexandre Carpentier, Annette Birthe Jensen, Armen Menendian, Athena Morella, Baptiste Blot, Boris Peianov, Camille Crepin, Claudio Moretti, Dag Præstegaard, Daniel Pihl, David Zahle, Edouard Boisse, Elisha Nathoo, Enea Michelesio, Eskild Nordbud, Ewelina Moszczynska, Frederik Lyng, Goda Luksaite, Henrik Kania, Høgni Laksáfoss, Jakob Lange, Jakob Teglgård Hansen, Jan Besikov, Jan Kudlicka, Jan Magasanik, Jeppe Ecklon, Jesper Boye Andersen, Ji-Young Yoon, Johan Cool, Kari-Ann Petersen, Kim Christensen, Kristoffer Negendahl, Long Zuo, Martin Cajade, Michael Schønemann Jensen, Mikkel Marcker Stubgaard, Niklas Rausch, Norbert Nadudvari, Oana Simionescu, Richard Howis, Sabine Kokina, Simonas Petrakas, Sofia Sofianou, Takumi Iwasawam, Tobias Hjortdal, Tommy Bjørnstrup, Victor Bejenaru, Xiao Xuan Lu
BIG Ideas: Tore Banke, Kristoffer Negendahl
Collaborators: Fuglark, Lemming & Eriksson, Rosan Bosch, Samal Johannesen, Martin E Leo and K J Elrad Radgevandi Verkfroendingar

More images and plans

Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Site plan
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
First storey
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Second storey
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Third storey
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Fourth storey
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Fifth storey
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Sixth storey
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
Glasir by BIG in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands