St. Michaëlschool

Rotterdam, NL

How do you make a big building fit the scale of the child?


St. Michaëlschool

The replacement new building for the St. Michaëlschool, in the Rotterdam district of Hillegersberg, had to accommodate no less than 23 groups and 550 students. In the design, the aim was to keep the school looking modest despite its size, in keeping with the villa-rich surroundings. And even more importantly, the school had to fit in with the scale and perception of the child.

The school is divided into three clusters, each with its own entrance.

Zoning provides suitable workplaces for every concentration level

The central hall is multifunctional

Thanks to small niches, the large space can also be used on a small scale

Special seating provides security both inside and outside

The school has small-scale air treatment installations

Sculptural short and low façades reflect the scale of the child

The St. Michaëlschool is situated in the district like a ‘villa in the green’

The school is located in a modern, orthogonal district. Two of the three wings follow that grid. The third wing is diagonal and is therefore an exception to the urban development. The star shape keeps the school compact and gives each of the lower, middle and upper classes its own entrance. The large volume is broken by adding sculptural balconies and large roof overhangs.

The classrooms are arranged in small clusters in the three wings. The oak staircase in the centrally located auditorium can be used as a show staircase or a stage. The staircase turns into oak paneling that creates a warm, homely atmosphere. Work niches and diner-style seating are integrated into the panelling, so that children can work independently or in groups outside their own ‘domain’.

St. Michaëlschool

The St. Michaël School is a ’villa in the green’ located in the neighbourhood of Hillegersberg in Rotterdam. The concept refers not only to the white stuccoed exterior of the school, but also to the homely, well-ordered inner world. Despite the fact that it houses a large primary school with 550 pupils, the building does not feel big thanks to its star shape with three wings, and it fits in well with the child’s perception. The corridors between the classrooms are extra wide, so that the children can also work outside here too. The spacious playroom can be linked to the auditorium thanks to the glass folding wall.

Technology and architecture are optimally integrated. Skylights bring daylight deep into the building, PV cells provide the school with solar energy, roof overhangs and canopies limit heat in the summer and a heat-cold storage (ATES) system provides the entire school with winter heating and summer cooling via the underfloor heating system. The most innovative solution is the efficient and economical decentralised ventilation system, which has the additional advantage of avoiding large air ducts – allowing the ceilings to reach a lofty 3.2 metres.


St. Michaëlschool
Rotterdam, NL
3.007 m²
Scagliola & Brakkee, JL Marshall
  • Rotterdam Architectuurprijs
    Audience award
More info