How do you design a school with an eye on innovative education?
De Zwarte Hond designed the De Samenstroom children’s centre in Hellevoetsluis, commissioned by Cordeel. The children’s centre is located in the Nieuw-Helvoet district, which is being redeveloped into a residential area with a cluster of facilities. The rugged character that has been given to the new school stems from the history of this location: this used to be an industrial area and an old rubber factory still stands nearby. The clients for the new children’s centre wanted a multifunctional building that could accommodate an innovative educational concept: a school without classrooms.
1 Main supporting structure
2 Interchangeable clusters around the heart
3 Clusters or rooms on grid
The rust-coloured cladding and contours of Corten steel give the children’s centre a strongly industrial silhouette and evoke the industrial past
The sturdy, compact building is rich in detail and designed from the perspective of the child. For example, the plinth of the building, where the youngest children will be taught, is completely transparent and open and has an all-round ‘learning veranda’. The veranda creates extra teaching space in the open air, offers the children exciting play areas and at the same time functions as sun protection. For this reason, it is deeper on the south façade than on the other three sides.
Inside, there are plenty of intimate places where the youngest children can find security and feel safe. The materials and colours used in the interior also fit in well with the child’s world, with lots of wood and a warm colour palette featuring orange and yellow tones.
The combination of two primary schools, a nursery, after-school care and a medical nursery makes the children’s centre an example of inclusiveness. Everyone can come here, including children with disabilities. But the most unique thing about the building is that it has no classrooms. The schools involved believe in the usefulness and necessity of innovation in education and have opted for a design without classrooms – an organisational form that is still unusual, but has been gaining popularity in recent years.
Children’s Centre De Samenstroom
In a formerly industrial location, where an old rubber factory still stands, we have realised a school with a rugged character that is rooted in the history of its site. De Samenstroom is a compact and detailed building, designed from the child’s perspective. At the centre of the school is its ‘heart’: a large interior courtyard in which the team space, library and learning environments are located. The space is multifunctional and is used after lessons for after-school care. There is room for large-scale celebrations, with the stairs functioning as a podium. A special feature of the assignment was its innovative educational vision. The chosen design has no classroom divisions. The classes are collected into ‘clusters’ of 75 children and three teachers. In this kind of set-up, the children have greater opportunities to choose their personal learning path. Due to the large spaces, the spans of the floors are large. This provides maximum flexibility. If necessary, a learning cluster can easily be housed in three traditional classrooms. This attention to the indoor environment and health is also apparent from the abundance of daylight in the school, the fact that windows can be opened everywhere, the numerous places where children can play both indoors and outdoors, the stimulation of bicycle use and the frequent use of greenery in the garden – and on the roof.
- Children’s Centre De Samenstroom
- Hellevoetsluis, NL
- 4.469 m²
- Gemeente Hellevoetsluis, EduMare, Kinderkoepelgroep
- Scagliola Brakkee
- Cordeel, Arup en Mobius
- More info