Evenes School and Multipurpose Hall

A new School and Multipurpose Hall was built in Evenes in Northern Norway to boost the attractiveness of Evenes to prospective inhabitants and to offer new amenities to the community.

Read the article in Finnish here.

Evenes is a small community in Ofoten in Northern Norway. The municipality wanted to merge two smaller schools into one large school at Liland, while simultaneously creating a new, local arena which would stimulate growth in the community. The previous sports hall and swimming pool had been damaged beyond repair, prompting the municipality to also include in the project brief a new multipurpose hall for the school and community to use. With the help of the National Association of Norwegian Architects (NAL), an architectural design competition was organized and invited a mixture of prequalified project teams with a diverse range of experience.

The main challenge in the brief was to reuse and transform the existing main school building and maintain operations in the existing administration structure while the new extension of the school was under construction, thereby avoiding the use of temporary classroom structures. This premise was both environmentally sustainable and yielded cost-savings in the project budget.

The project’s socially sustainable ambition aims to offer new public amenities to the community while boosting the attractiveness of Evenes to prospective inhabitants. The multipurpose hall consists of a 12-meter- long swimming pool, a large multipurpose hall, a small gym room and café facilities which are open to the public. The school is also not just a typical school facility for students, with many of its spaces often accessible to the entire community. The library is open to the public while the auditorium hosts events such as film nights, church services and gymnastic lessons.

The school extension merges the new with the old by connecting them with the transparent auditorium. The auditorium utilizes the natural slope in the terrain to blur the boundary between the interior and exterior, allowing the auditorium to extend out into the schoolyard. The terrain difference affords a dynamic split-level condition and makes the spaces around the main entrance and auditorium light-filled and spacious. The remaining school volume steps down and wraps around the outdoor area to provide a protected schoolyard sheltered from the cold winter eastern winds.

The existing administration building is also upgraded with varying degrees of intervention. The administration and library facilities were completely refurbished and the façade and roof have been upgraded to provide better insulation. The music education department also received a new recording studio to compliment the other departments that had been refurbished earlier (arts and crafts, food and health education, and science education).

The structure in the school (exterior walls, floor slabs and roof structure) were all made of CLT. The structure over the auditorium utilizes a wooden rib-panel structure which is more cost-effective for longer spans in CLT. Most of the interior walls are also made of CLT elements. Acoustic claddings and small division walls are made of thin, 15mm wooden panels and wood-fiber cement acoustic absorbents. Electric cabling and sprinklers are placed in the gaps of the acoustic layer and thin wooden panels. The extensive use of wood contributes to excellent room acoustic and hygroscopic qualities, and durable, maintenance-friendly surfaces.

The multipurpose hall is partly built into the landscape in order to blend the large structure into an area dominated by single- family housing. The structure in the multipurpose hall consists of a concrete retaining wall, glulam columns and trusses in LVL (laminated veneer lumber). The swimming pool area also uses glulam columns and beams for its structure. Special attention has been given to detailing of the wooden surfaces, joints and fixtures in the pool area to ensure that all wooden surfaces are properly ventilated.

The facades of both the school and multipurpose hall are clad with impregnated spruce façade panels. The panel is treated with a sand-colored stain to maintain its light color.

In the beginning, the client did not have definite ambitions to build the school or the multipurpose hall in wood. The project was planned and illustrated as a series of wood buildings during the competition phase, which was then presented to the school and municipality outlining the many benefits of building with wood along with our experience from previous large projects. In the end, the reduced CO₂ emissions, the hygroscopic and maintenance-friendly qualities, and the appealing aesthetic all contributed to convincing the client to build the project out of wood.


MDH Arkitekter believes in an architecture that mixes innovation, local identity, sustainability, architectural pluralism and tradition. We want to create robust architectural concepts that stand the test of time. We develop plan- and building projects with a rational approach and strive for uncompromised craftsmanship, both in process and finished result. MDH Arkitekter was established in 2010 and is lead by: Minna Riska (Architect SAFA, NAL, University of Oulu 2003) Dagfinn Sagen (Architect NAL, Oslo school of architecture 2005) Helge Lunder (Architect NAL, Oslo school of architecture 2005) and Sigbjørn Willemsen (Architect NAL, Oslo school of architecture 2016). The office has 12 employees and is located in Oslo Norway.

Project in brief

Evenes School and Multipurpose Hall

  • Location | Evenes, Ofoten, Norge
  • Purpose | Primaryand Seconday school and Multipurpose Hall with swimming pool
  • Constructor/Client | Evenes kommune
  • Valmistumisvuosi | 2021
  • Floor area | 6 178 m2
  • Total area | 6 574 m2
  • Architectural Design | MDH ARKITEKTER (NO)
  • Structural design | WSP/WOODCON AS
  • Akustiikkasuunnittelu | Brekke & Strand
  • Palotekninen suunnittelu | Total Brannsikring AS
  • LVIA-suunnittelu | Erichsen & Horgen AS/ Haalogaland VVS AS/ GK Norge AVD Bodø GKI
  • Electrical design | ECT AS/ Volt Electro Harstad AS
  • Interior design | MDH ARKITEKTER
  • Muut suunnittelijat ja asiantuntijat | Landscape design: MASU PLANNING (DK/FI)
  • Pääurakoitsija | PEAB Bjørn Bygg
  • Muut rakennusliikkeet | Other contractors: Woodcon AS, 2tal Utemiljø
  • Wood component supplier | Woodcon AS
  • Photographs | MDH ARKITEKTER
  • Text | Minna Riska