WHEN THE HIGH school in Gammel Hellerup, Denmark, needed a new sports hall, they also ended up with a brand new schoolyard. The hall by the architects BIG was opened in 2013. It has been sunk down at least five metres into the ground between the school’s existing buildings. Its vaulted wooden roof has been created using a number of curved glulam beams that span the 1100 square metre hall. At the same time, the roof creates a brand new outside space in the schoolyard above. Untreated oak has replaced the previously asphalted outdoor surface. The wooden structure rises out of the ground like the back of a whale, offering plenty of space to sit and chat.
The idea of creating a wavy roof arose out of a handball match. Architect Bjarke Ingels at BIG drew inspiration from the arc of the handball through the air and sought to replicate that movement in the roof joists.
“In homage to my old maths teacher, we used the mathematical formula for a ballistic curve to create the geometry of the roof,” he explains.«