Neutral vs. specific
DEN HELDER (NL) - Central to the design that SeARCH made for this secondary school was the contradictory need for neutrality and specificity. The building was the first in a new district whose further development was entirely unknown during the design phase, as was the precise programme; the school had to be able to shrink or expand in the future. On the other hand, a new district can do with a striking building, while recognizability is important for the students of a large school in order to retain a sense of identity. In their choice of form, materials and colour, SeARCH managed to unite these contrasting requirements.
The architects designed a school in the shape of an omni-sided drum with a distinctive, bamboo planted atrium-cum-schoolyard in the centre. The facades are clad with a perfectly ordinary material – corrugated aluminium – but thanks to the two-tone striped coating, the building's appearance alters depending on the angle and distance from which it is viewed.
Inside, the flexible layout, with classrooms lining an ascending spiral ramp, generates a strong spatiality. This chain of identical classrooms is occasionally interrupted by double-height student workplaces, which border the atrium. Painted lime green, they provide lighter accents between the dark green of the walls, floors and ceilings. Contrasting with the dominant green are paler materials like the glass of the base, the air cushion roof of the atrium and the silvery aluminium balustrades along the ramp. The balustrades are in turn differentiated by the lacy pattern of punched holes. All in all this is at every level of scale a unique and, at the same time, timeless building. (Kirsten Hannema)
Colour, Facade, Interior, Metal |