Project9,500 sq. m. secondary vocational education
LocationAmstelveen, the Netherlands
ClientPanta Rhei Comprehensive School


Panta Rhei Comprehensive School is a non-denominational comprehensive school offering preparatory secondary vocational education; junior general secondary education; International Transition Class; and special-needs education to a total of 740 pupils.

Classes are taught based on a system that involves replacing traditional classrooms with larger Core Teams. The teaching approach is based on independent, skill-based learning.

Twenty-first century pupils acquire new knowledge not just in a classroom setting, but are independent enough to store and process information elsewhere in the building. With a strong focus on spontaneity of interaction between pupils inside the building, it was important to provide pupils with a space where they can essentially claim the school as their own. The building plays a facilitating role in this process, leaving pupils with the space and freedom to mould it in their own style.

Anyone entering the new Panta Rhei building is sure to notice the poems engraved into certain parts of the linoleum floor. After conducting numerous interviews with school pupils, poet Erik Jan Harmens composed more than 20 captivating pieces. The poems explore issues relevant to the lives of teenagers, including respect, bullying, crushes and infatuation, and creativity.

The users of the building encounter these poems every day and discuss their meaning together. The poems appeal to them and they will doubtless look back on them with fondness later in their lives.

‘Flexibility’ was a keyword in creating the new school’s overall appearance and interior, which is reflected in the design of the teaching sections as well. The time when pupils learned exclusively from a teacher in a classroom setting is long past.

The school and its sports facilities were nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2011, while the design won the BNA Building of the Year architectural award for the year 2010 for the northwestern/central part of the Netherlands.