Project8,500 sq. m. secondary education
LocationUtrecht, the Netherlands
ClientWerkplaats Kindergemeenschap


The existing building was rigid and uniform in construction, designed for classroom teaching combined with practical classes. This was reflected in the building’s spatial structure and appearance, featuring classrooms lined up next to each other, with a workshop added on. Since both the building’s spatial structure and its appearance no longer suited the purposes of this type of vocational education, which has since undergone various changes, there was a need for a more flexible, open and outward-looking building.

The existing building mass was divided crosswise into two volumes and given a more abstract design in keeping with the size and scale of the surroundings. The upshot is a building that no longer unequivocally appears as a series of classrooms, but rather presents the school as a fully realised, dynamic space.

The ground-floor facade was fully replaced due to its poor structural condition. The old, closed facades were replaced with transparent, colourful ones. Outdoor areas were added on each floor, adding vibrancy to the building and making the purposes of each section clearly visible. An outdoor section of the cafeteria, practical terraces used to teach the creative subjects, and a lounge terrace on the top floor demonstrate that the building accommodates activities other than classroom teaching alone.

The existing dual-hallway structure was largely abandoned, with the traffic area being alternated with classrooms, meeting rooms, study rooms and break rooms, creating a dynamic, fluid interplay of spaces and daylight. Large voids were made in the floors to create a three-dimensional space, as an alternative to ‘stacked’ floors of classrooms. Combined with the new, large light covers, the voids add light and transparency to the building.

Breaking open the floor plans and the floors, particularly in the centre of the building, effectively gave the school a heart. The auditorium no longer leads into the hallway but rather makes up the centre of the school together with the entrance.