School Extension in Voerde

In addition to functional needs, the relationship to the adjoining landscape played a major role in the design of this extension to an existing school centre. The building – an independent, compact structure that presents a closed face to the street, but is open to the natural surroundings – has a simple plan form. The classrooms are laid out around three sides of a central hall, which has a glazed outer wall and a number of roof-light strips. This brightly lit space forms the centre of the building, accommodating a variety of activities and acting as a kind of »agora«. Here, too, is the staircase to the gallery, from where the first-floor classrooms are reached. A sense of vibrancy is created by the contrasts between the open and closed segments of the building, between the spacious hall and the massive classroom tract, and between the filigree glass façade and the solid walls – partly rendered and painted blue, partly clad with fibre-cement panels. The design of the hall reflects a close study of constructional economies. These were achieved, for example, by minimizing the outer surface area, an aspect that also makes a positive contribution to the energy balance. The hall façade, consisting of metal channels and thermally divided fenestration, is fixed with straps to laminated timber columns. Horizontal bracing is provided by stainless-steel cables fixed to the columns at a third and two-thirds of their height. The timber entrance door is set asymmetrically in the glass façade.
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