The site’s location between two distinct land uses and scales provides us with an opportunity to engage with two extreme conditions. These set the ground for a conceptual mix of two different building typologies that are unified by a conventional structural system and building materials. The east is part of the Nafels’ industrial heritage, while the west is engaged with the garden.
The proposed school is imagined as a longitudinal building that combines varied programmatic requirements, such as a kindergarten and primary school, with community amenities, such as a gym and daytime structure. The main idea was to hollow out most of the lower level, offering continuity with outdoor spaces of the street and garden and extending the street into the building. The other feature at the ground level includes nooks facing the garden, offering personal areas for relaxing and reading.
While the kindergarten and collective functions occupy the street level, the upper level accommodates the primary school. The gym, which is partially recessed underground, occupies the rear portion of the building, with the possibility of access from the reconfigured street coming from the western part of the site. The gym houses an uncovered pitch on its rooftop.
The school’s main entrance is located to the north under the covered forecourt for parents and children. The young children have direct access to the kindergarten from the covered outdoor area. The primary school’s entrance is in the middle of the building and may be reached from the forecourt via a covered walkway along the building.
The basic classroom unit structures the organisation of the building, characterised by an internal hallway, alternating classrooms with trapezoid-shaped group rooms next to the classes and rooms that open onto the garden. The layout encourages cross-ventilation between classrooms and hallways.
We selected wood at an early stage as the primary structural and internal finishing material because of its inherent message of sustainable impact on nature, its warm atmosphere and the speed of construction. Built-ins provide seating, cabinetry, desks and nooks. It significantly reduces CO2 emissions from the building during construction.
The landscape complements and connects many elements of the site; the sports facility attached to the secondary school is an essential focal point of the neighbourhood.
The school is open to neighbourhood residents and serves as a community centre, offering its resources after school hours.