In the heart of the leafy, affluent village of Laren, a group of traditional school buildings made way for a large, modern educational complex that was integrated almost organically into its environment. In terms of design and the use of materials, the design can be considered slightly wayward when compared to the adjacent buildings. The geometric, flat-roofed building volumes, constructed from clean concrete, zinc, steel, glass and lacquered wood, have no formal connection at all to the pronounced tiled and thatched roofs that surround the new building.
From a spatial perspective, however, the new building has been carefully integrated into the rural building structure and ‘skyline’ of the historic village.
The College, which is the result of the merging of three schools for preparatory secondary vocational education, offers this type of education to more than 1,000 pupils. In addition to regular classrooms, the new building also contains a large number of practical areas, including workshops for wood- and metal-working, graphic technology, and electrical engineering and installation technology. The building also accommodates a fully-equipped auto workshop, a bakery and a professional restaurant kitchen, as well as a small ‘real’ restaurant where pupils work to acquire practical experience.
In order to accommodate the extensive list of requirements set by the three merger partners (10,000 sq. m. gross floor area) on the available building site, the construction volume was subsided into the ground by more than one metre, while the schoolyard was installed on the roof of the workshops.
By dividing the aggregate construction volume into four quadrants, each with their own architectural design, the complex appears smaller in size, while each quadrant can blend perfectly into its immediate environment.