Faerder Technical High School by White Arkitekter

Faerder technical high school is a new secondary education vocational college located on the portside of Tønsberg, Norway’s oldest village. It combines three existing schools under one roof creating a state-of-the-art new campus for academic education, design and building trades, automotive mechanics and engineering.

White Arkitekter’s competition-winning design creates a vibrant campus which actively promotes and supports the interplay between the school, the town and the region’s enterprises with an open access policy for the new facilities so that the 750 students who enroll here engage with and feel a part of the local community.

The new technical academy is located on the quayside between Tønsberg’s town centre and its main port on the Baltic Sea. In an area that has seen the slow demise of the use of its industrial buildings, the intention is that the school will catalyse regeneration of the area, whilst reviving some of the practical trades and skills that the area was once widely known for, such as carpentry, welding and mechanical engineering.

The building’s procurement was unique: the school is the result of a joint venture between the municipality, and a team of consultants, including White, who formed a company with a construction firm. The school was engaged from the outset to ensure an ongoing dialogue between White’s design team and the end users.

The campus was designed from the inside out. Analysis of the site and key sight-lines led to the design of three key meeting places within the campus which dictated the form of the 15,000 sq m school building. It is designed as a permeable building within an accessible campus to actively encourage an interplay with the wider community.

At the heart of the building sits The Hangar, a semi-covered open space where student and public walkways converge. Its vast proportions emulate the ship building facilities which once stood on the site. It provides an accessible covered outdoor space where workshops, concerts and exhibitions can be held by students and the wider public.

The school is arranged around a centralised staircase and atrium space in a vertical sequence of spaces rising to four floors. The sequence includes an entrance plaza, canteen, auditorium and exhibition area, which collectively form a huge common room just next to The Hangar. Technical workshops are on the uppermost floors. Expansive glazed sliding doors on the lower floors flood the spaces with natural daylight and permit access for large scale industrial building materials.


The school is constructed of sustainably sourced wood and concrete, which was chosen for its thermal mass and cooling qualities. This combines with a highly reflective rooftop that reduces initial heat buildup. The adjacent canal water is also used as a cooling aid in the summer time and heat exchanges have been installed as part of the thermal management system. Above all it is designed as a highly flexible space to accommodate the evolving needs of the school and the community for many years to come.

Location: Tønsberg
Area/size: 15,000 sq m
Project schedule: 2009 - 2013
Completed: 2014
Cost: €68.6M
Client: VFK, Vestfold Fylkeskommune (Vestfold County)
Architect: White Arkitekter
Project Architect: White Arkitekter
Structural Engineer: Sweco
Services Engineer: Norconsult AB
Contractor: Veidekke
Photographer: Ivan Brodey and Åke E:son Lindman