8 School Building Architectural Designs Using Natural Wood

Natural wood siding and building materials have beneficial properties no matter where they are found on a building. Wood is renewable, sustainable and studies show that wood can have many positive effects on the health of those working or studying in the area. For students and educators who spend the bulk of their days inside, having a building made with real wood can be a big benefit. These 8 academic building design ideas are meant to give you an idea of how you can use wood to create a learning environment even in urban areas.

1. University of Southern Denmark

Architect: Henning Larsen Architects

This university combines plate glass and metal, with the organic beauty of real wood siding for a contemporary façade that also has an approachable and natural feel. The vertical wood cladding adds visual height to the building, as well as depth of color in the material, while contrasting the other glass and metal, bringing a softer, more organic feel to the school.

2. Mesterfjellet School

Architect: SPINN Arkitekter, CEBRA, Various Architects, Østengen & Bergo Photo by: Mikkel Frost / Jiri Havran

This school in Norway wanted a sustainable design that was also in line with modern Norwegian architecture. Natural wood cladding was used to cover the building’s exterior providing a warm and traditional Nordic color palette. The vertical wood cladding in combination with the varied window placement, create a modern look that seeks to inspire the creative process. The modified wood used is extremely sustainable and low maintenance, allowing it to fit the rest of the design ideals. Overtime, the exterior was left to weather naturally, enhancing its beauty and completing the look of the school.

3. Sustainable Kindergarten

Photo by: Mike Haran

Sustainability was high on the list of attributes important in the renovation of this kindergarten in Germany. Therefore, natural wood decking was used to help create a safe and healthy environment for the children to learn and play on. The decking is made of modified wood making it easy for the school to maintain and providing the durability needed in an environment that is subject to the active use.

4. Student Housing

Architect: Henning Larsen Architects & SGB Photo by: Jørn Hindklev, Byggeindustrien

This student housing development, located at the site of the 2016 Youth Olympic Games, was built with environmental credentials at the forefront of their design. In an effort to meet passive house credentials, they chose an environmentally friendly modified wood to clad the entire exterior façade. Not only does the wood enhance the beauty of the natural surroundings, but it also holds up extremely well in rough winter conditions which was a point of concern for the location.

5. Modern and Sustainable School

Architect: Arkitema Architects Photo by: Niels Nygaard

When the extension to this school in Denmark was being designed, it was made clear that sustainability was to remain at the heart of the design. As a result, natural wood cladding was used throughout both the exterior and interior of the building. The exterior cladding was designed to eventually be covered in a vertical forest of climbing plants to help improve the air and further emphasize the school’s eco-friendly philosophy.

6. Jack & Jones Campus

Architect: Bay Arch Photo by: Kristian Juul Pedersen

When Danish retailer Jack & Jones wanted a campus to train employees, they envisioned a rustic, nature focused building and location. The modified wood decking and cladding of the building’s exterior is complemented by a massive living grass roof. The natural weathering of the wood continues to developed the sought after silver-gray patina which continues to enhance the building’s rustic charm.

7. Colindale Primary School

Architect: Sprunt

This primary school used a sustainable wood cladding and chose a very unique installation method to create a one-of-a-kind design statement. The first layer of cladding was installed in a vertical shiplap style with a secondary level of boards on top, adding dynamic dimensional and movement to the design. Mixing in bold color accents beside the windows help to make the building's style pop even more.

8. Helle School

Architect: Børve & Borchsenius

The façade of the Helle School is made up of a mixture of different materials to create one fluid design. Sustainable wood cladding was installed in sections over the exterior, mixed with natural stone and large panels of stained glass for color and dimension. The result is fresh, modern design that will also be low-maintenance and easy to care for.

Schools and academic buildings are meant to enhance people’s lives through education and explorations. With the use of proper building materials and creative designs, they can also enhance the educational environment and hopefully improve the learning experience as a result. Be inspired by any of these 8 design ideas when you consider your next school or educational building project to create a building that is as functional as it is beautiful.