Too Big To Fail
Lelystad is the best known example of a new city, created 50 years ago on the bottom of the ‘Zuiderzee’ at a minus 4.5 meter level. The project is too big to fail: The schoolcampus will accommodate all secondary education in the area. It contains 28,000 m2 for 3,800 students and ca. 350 staff in all categories from ‘artisans’ to classical gymnasium. So the aspects of scale and the manageability of numbers of (adolescent!) people are inevitable.
The invention of the plan is the introduction of an intermediate scale. The urban design of Lelystad, dating from the 1960’s, is conspicuously failing in this respect: large superblocks, divided by local highways, create an autistic framework filled with small scale, monofunctional housing. The result is a lack of orientation without a natural hierarchy of a centre with subcentres and connected neighbourhoods. Yet there is a pioneering spirit in the city and a mentality of optimism.
The crucial strategy has been to break down numbers in logical steps: 1 Campus, 2 schools (1x more practical, 1x theoretical), 6 ‘sub-schools’ with 18 ‘domains’ on 3 floors and a shared building for Arts and Performances. The 6 sub-schools each facilitate a comprehensible 650 students: knowable and recognised by their staff; at home in the building and at ease in their domain of maximum 250 students. Since most students arrive on bicycle, the logistic system is essential for the functioning of the complex. Despite the obvious financial consequences, all bicycle parkings are located under the school buildings, accessible via a wide circular bicycle path. Each student has a designated place linked to her or his own school building. The pedestrian entry level is lifted and can be reached via an elliptical concourse around a tiny forest. Each school has a common hall for gatherings, performances and informal meetings, linked to the schoolyards on the outer perimeter of the complex. The build-over bicycle spaces avoid the negative impact of ca. 6000 m2 of open air sheds. Instead, the complex is surrounded by a variety of gardens and outdoor spaces.
Organic, simple, diverse
The basic concept of the campus is its organic shape, resembling a flower. This is the anti-thesis of the orthogonal plan of the city of Lelystad that was designed by engineers. It creates a specific notion of inside and outside; of the position of one building versus another; of distance and proximity. Each ‘leaf’ can function autonomously but only the composition of buildings and outdoor spaces defines a vital complex.
The triple glazed facades are universal and flexible, optimising the performance on sustainability: The campus will be ‘zero-on-the-meter’ eventually. The two schools have a slightly different finish in anodized aluminium: copper for the theoretical, gold for the practical school. The entrance is marked by the shared building for Arts and Performances. Here, a specific architecture with arches in an elliptical brick wall welcomes parents, students and staff each moment of the day.
We are practical idealists. Of course we enjoy dreaming about beauty and a circular world as much as anyone, but what we really like is to work on it: day after day, together with clients, and always with the users and the environment in mind. The resulting designs inspire the way people live, work and learn. Our architecture creates space, strengthens the environment and gives something back to society. We are Kraaijvanger.
Rather than a particular style, there is an approach that is inextricably linked to Kraaijvanger. Every design is unique, because it matches client, environment and users. But all of our designs are maximally flexible, circular and future-oriented. Today will be different tomorrow and that is why we take future reuse into account.
We explore by design, we make it simple and we build beauties. Read more on this at https://www.kraaijvanger.nl/en/studio/approach-methodology/