The new Metzo College building in the city of Doetinchem in the East of The Netherlands houses a trade school and sports facility accessible to the public outside school hours. Completed in 2006 and winner of the dutch award for new secondary school architecture, the complex replaces three previous schools and has a total surface area of
16,400 sqm catering for around 1,300 students aged between 12 and 16.
Architect practice Erick van Egeraat developed a design in keeping with new thinking in vocational training. Accordingly, the architecture creates opportunities for interchange among student groups and accommodates the wide offering of practical and theoretical subjects, including health education and counselling.
A compact, square shaped, ground plan rises to form a six-storey truncated pyramid. A distinctive feature in an open slightly undulating landscape dotted with trees, the building achieves a delicate balance between architectural landmark and harmonious addition to the countryside. The geometry of the elevations comprises prevalently horizontal lines crossed by oblique bands that make each façade distinctive. The alternation of cladding slabs and varying sized windows, together with a colour scheme that moves through tones of grey to ochre, help give a deliberate disjointedness to the elevations, breaking up the building’s compact mass.
In deference to new educational concepts, the interior follows principles of flexibility, multi-functionality, transparency and openness. The ground plan provides open areas for group study and socialisation, individual study corners and teacher workstations. Spaces and multi-functional classrooms can be redefined and reformulated to meet teaching requirements. The absence of stark divisions makes distribution within the various departments clearly legible.
The key feature is a central court-cum-patio. Placed above the entrance level, the court has a suspended ceiling whose external perimeter is an accessible roof garden while the dropped-down central portion creates a patio flooded with natural daylight. Surrounded by study areas - the classrooms are located along the external perimeter - this large central space plays a key distribution and social role.
The school’s public function is further enhanced by the accessibility of the sports facilities and restaurant to the general public. Conceived as an artificially lit “black box” on the underground levels, the gym has a separate entrance.