Ved Glyptoteket Nursery school
2012 - 2014

A nurs­ery school with a big heart

An architectural labour of love

As the site for a new nursery school, the City of Copenhagen had picked a corner plot on one of Copenhagen’s busiest streets, surrounded by iconic neighbours such as the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum and the Tivoli Gardens. Despite the modestly sized plot, the client’s requirements for the new building were ambitious, driven by a visionary leadership with high educational goals. In other words, this was a project with many architectural constraints.

Vandkunsten won the competition and created a project that functions as an outdoor nursery school in the heart of the city. A place where children can learn to grow plants and harvest their own crops in the green interior of the house, framed by a stringent exterior that shows a clear kinship with its physical environment.

We provide the blank canvas for kids' creativity

‘We’re so fed up with brightly coloured nursery schools! Children have a much freer imagination than us adults, so why do we still think that they need to be helped along with bright red doors and yellow walls? We would much rather give them a blank canvas and a chance to create their own colourful world. Fortunately, the City of Copenhagen embraced our ideas.’

– Jan Albrechtsen, Partner Vandkunsten Architects

Hard exterior, soft interior

Towards the street, the new building signals a clear and classic kinship with the distinctive architecture in the area: the Copenhagen Police Headquarters, the Tivoli Gardens and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum. However, behind its buttoned-up exterior, the children’s house opens up to the sky and to the large greenhouse that connects the building to the central green outdoor space.

Opening toward the playground

The plan of the nursery home takes advantage of every single square meter of the small site. The green house is for example part of the arrival space. While being an interior space, it still feels like being outside.

From old cars to trikes

The green garden and playground that now make up the heart of the nursery school were once home to a motley assembly of functions, including an auto repair shop and other activities that were not exactly child-friendly. In the background, one sees the greenhouse and the roof terrace, which makes the most of the limited space on the small plot.

Eyes on the city

The few street-facing windows consist mainly of large niches that are occupied by children at play during the day.


Architectural analogy

The building’s facade has the same plaster finish as the distinctive Copenhagen Police Headquarters building just a few hundred metres down the street.

Multi-purpose greenhouse

The double-height greenhouse is both an arrival space and a place for the children to grow plants and get their fingers dirty all year round. The element is further designed to provide a constructive sun screen for the common areas, all of which face the garden and the playground.

The pocket park

The corner towards the Tivoli Gardens and Tietgensgade has been cut off to make room for a tree. A small spatial niche that we hand back to the city, and where parents can pause for a chat when they run into each other in the hustle and bustle of the morning drop-off.


Project facts


Project name: Ved Glyptoteket Nursery school

Category:Culture & Institutions

Client: The City of Copenhagen (Kejd)

Location: Copenhagen

Gross area: 1.000

Date: 2012 - 2014

Status: Finished

Cost of construction: 29 mio. DKK


Program: Nursery home

Activity: Architecture

Job type: Competition

Construction system: Concrete

Contact: Jan Albrechtsen,

Project group: Jan Albrechtsen, Kristian Martinsen, Christian Stahlfest Holck Skov, Thomas Nybo Rasmussen, Pernille Schyum Poulsen, Camilla Stilling, Sigurd Vinde Akselsen


Architect: Vandkunsten

Landscape: Vandkunsten

Engineer: EKJ