School, Lennik, 2011-2017

IEA i.c.w. PLUSoffice

This joint venture of two architectural firms that together Grontmij technical office forms the 'core design team', won in October 2011 the first 'Mini Competition' for a cluster of five schools in the context of the 'Catching up operation for School buildings'.
These five schools belong to one governing body but are geografically distributed in the provinces of Antwerp and the Flemish Brabant. St. Godelieve Institute in Lennik was the "test project" for the competition phase, where a design proposal had to be formulated that would convince all the five schools participating in the competition to designate a design team.
A characteristic of all five schools is the painful to lack of space as a result of the significant growth inrecent years of the number of pupils and a change in didactic practices, leading to a large part of the students currently being "housed" in containers placed overall the school grounds or in outdated prefabricated barracks. The DBFM 'Schools of Tomorrow' program offers a unique opportunity to fundamentally improve these schools, and rational and efficient construction continues to be the message.
In Lennik IEA & Plus Offi ceUtd. suggested a highly pragmatic approach, whereby the fragmented, crumbled and re- knitted structures of the local spatial context (a so-called patchwork) are used as the basis for an 'open-school concept': as flexible as a school community should be in order to deal with its heritage, but also to be able to deal with its new buildings in the future. The implantation concept provides for three new build parts (secondary school, elementary school, sport & cafeteria) that fit into the existing, slightly sloping landscape, but also allow for new additions, couplings, greening, divisions, expansion and even shrinkage.
This open school is architecturally translated into a Patchwork 2.0 -a pattern that receives a different implementation at different levels and scales (landscape, facade, interior, furniture ...), yet makes for an open connection. A thoughtful phasing of the execution reduces the ' building nuisance' or can even transform it into an educational school project.