A secondary school in the Netherlands has put the playground at its heart and spiralled the classrooms around it on a Guggenheim-esque ramp.
Amsterdam-based practice Search Architects decided to create an indoor playground for the children because of the cold, intensely windy conditions of the region. “With the bamboo and the balloon roof, we have tried to create an illusionary outdoor space inside,” says project architect Bjarne Mastenbroek. The translucent roof spans 14m and is made of ETFE plastic, composed of small pillows of air.
The circular school, which is the first secondary school in the small northern town of Julianadorp, is for 12- to 16-year-olds, with a range of traditional and vocational courses. “It was important to make a space that was flexible and didn’t offer divisions,” says Mastenbroek. Hence the spiral ramp, which gradually climbs up the building creating one long, continuous space.
The colour palette of predominantly yellows and greens in the school’s main areas was chosen to create a calm, neutral environment. “We don’t like this neurotic idea that schools should be colourful,” says Mastenbroek. “You can imagine the chaos when you add colourful furniture and colourful projects made by the kids!”
The external facade is glass around the lower level, while the rest is covered in sinusoidal profiled aluminium panels, which have each been painted half in gold and half in silver. “If you walk around the building the colours turn with you, glistening with the sun. It’s a very beautiful effect,” says Mastenbroek.
The school’s principal approached Search Architects having seen the practice’s impressive Triade cultural centre in Den Helder.
images Christian Richters