On the ‘beach meadow’ outside Ballen lies the Energy Academy like a modern golden age painting in muted tones. The longhouses symbolise the many actions taken, which in 20 years have created Samsø’s success as Denmark’s ‘Renewable Energy Island’
By Malene Annikki Lundén and Cecilie Marie Meyer, Samsø Energy Academy
5,000 guests from around the world visit the site each year but the Energy Academy is also a project-focused organisation and a cultural lighthouse of communication. Here we work with examples of those alternative and sustainable solutions that work.
Samsø is full of old, idyllic farmhouses. However, the Energy Academy’s modern longhouses show that time hasn’t stopped. The island is up to date technologically, with new heat pumps, flax insulation and energy solutions that help maintain a healthy bank account. ”On Samsø we say that we have to pinch the cold so the heat stays inside for as long as possible!”, says Jan Jantzen from the Energy Academy.
The external aesthetics of the Energy Academy may seem cool in their overall expression. The long zinc roofs are assembled with four gable ends lifting themselves up like chimneys. It is a low-tech solution for natural ventilation, because the heat always rises upwards.
The buildings do not have wood-burning stoves or oil-fired boilers, but are connected to the local, straw-fired district heating plant, which is located just outside the town of Ballen. In addition, the buildings have a beautiful, lead-grey surface, which contains two solar panel systems that supply the site with electricity.
Switched on to the present
The longhouses are decorated in muted Nordic colours. Grey is the predominant colour. Some of the greatest masters of art have used the grey palette to show us the depth of emotions of colours. Just think of the Danish Golden Age painter Hammershøi’s blue and grey toned paintings of rooms, which emanate presence.
The Energy Academy is also grey and emanates presence. In the evening, driving past us you might think we have forgotten to turn off the light but we’ve simply had a new light design fitted competing with the starry sky.
The houses are buzzing with activity when hosting project meetings, management courses or an association member meeting. The houses have become a modern gathering place for locals, where faith, hope and love are accepted.
Technology and tradition steeped in history
In 2005, the architects from ‘Arkitema’ in Aarhus were uncompromising when designing the Energy Academy as well as considering the surroundings’ impact on the longhouses – such as the bathhouses ”The Three Sisters” as well as the tree-lined avenue behind the Energy Academy leading up to a stately red brick farm on top of a hill.
Arkitema was inspired by one of Samsø’s golden eras, when the island was a Viking stronghold and a Samling (gathering) island. Situated right there in the heart of Denmark because the Vikings and the Samsinger are able to sail out in all directions.
Everyone visiting the Energy Academy is taken with the longhouses and our meetings in the round, where we sit in a circle just as the vikings did. One recalls when a Year 6 class from Kolding in Jutland being here on an Energy Safari learning about wind, sun and biomass. Suddenly one of the students exclaimed: ”If indeed the sea level does rise then you only need to turn over the longhouses and use them as ships – which the Vikings surely would have done!”
Tourist – now as CO2 neutral
Because energy provision is so close to the point of consumption, a visit to Samsø is almost carbon neutral. It’s wonderfully practical to be on a carbon positive island. You become part of that experience yourself. You can turn the light on, recharge (batteries) and turn the heating on without any cost to the environment. Even the carbon effect of your travelling here will be offset. When you come home, you can say, ”I have been on a carbon neutral holiday”.
The Golden Age is a period that most people know a little about but one mainly relates to the beautiful period of pastoral art, without thinking about how the visual arts at that time reflected a broad range of change in society.
Therefore we invite you to further decorate the Energy Academy’s modern golden age picture. Pop in for a cup of coffee or come to one of our events. You are most welcome!
Samsø is the place in Denmark where the most oil-fuelled boilers have been scrapped per resident. This has been achieved through campaigns and energy advice over the past 20 years and thanks to the well-informed consultants on the island keeping abreast of technological developments in the heating, electricity and water sectors.
If you bring your electric car, you can recharge it for a fee. The charging stations can be found in, among other places, Ballen and Tranebjerg. Find the map of charging stations on visitsamsoe.dk/elbil
Energy calendar 2019
January: Light of day – a new light design interacting with daylight and artificial light
February: A New Year’s Reception, which is the annual local meeting for “what’s happening in 2019”
March, April, May: Three in one Three open evening meetings with an academic content
April: Leadership course
June – September: Summer opening every Tuesday and Thursday between 1pm and 3pm September: Leadership course
October, November, December: ‘Open Academy’ every first Monday of the month between 6pm and 9pm
Read more on www.energiakademiet.dk
Last updated: 26/08/2020 11:18