IKC de Geluksvogel
Two existing schools in two neighbouring locations in Maastricht are merging into a new school on a new location in that city. This particular location was chosen to strengthen the weak social structure of the two neighbourhoods and to introduce a new digital education system to learn also more about the environment, nature and sustainability. Even the playground outside has different zones to help children (re)discover nature and explore their world by means of experiments or to build and test objects. The digital way of teaching is for the most part paperless (virtual), which is represented in the architecture of the building. It shows a brick element with random messages in binary code (1 and 0) on the façade, as a reflection of this digitalized education system and the virtual reality in which we live today. The façade acts as the messenger of our digital world. Not in a direct, obvious way but more indirect, by the irregular placing of the bricks in patterns. This is a school that holds a kindergarten, a primary school, a gym, out-of-school child care and a library. A school with five different types of users that work closely together to combine environmental and digital teaching to reach a new level of education. The concept of environmental teaching can be found on different levels, from virtual reality to the building itself, making it the green and modern digital school.
Both the school and the building are not designed around a classically organized educational system but around the concept of free movement and free use of spaces. We used the concept of a flock of birds to predict the movement of the users (children) through the building, which is how we designed the various spaces in the school. The educational space in the school is not limited to the classrooms but can continue in different open spaces with a different purpose. This open plan will encourage the free flow between and use of the spaces; education will not be limited by walls or doors. It even continues outside to the playground and the terraces on the first floor. Together with the consultants, the building was designed to be flexible and adjustable. This means that if this building should get another function in the future, the different compartments that is made up of can easily be adjusted to the needs and wishes of another user, without losing its quality. The educational system and lessons are completely digital and are connected to the sports facilities and activities. The sports activities of the children can therefore be incorporated into the digital learning program. The green and environmental aspect are also part of the school program. The building fits its surroundings like a pavilion in a green area. The school is located at the head of a green development area, which extends into the country.
The green gardens in the playground and the special green roof terrace have another quality than the ground floor. Green architecture is incorporated in the interior of the building through the sustainable use of materials, plants and vegetables. Here the children can have lessons in the open air when the weather allows it. Nature and (digital) education go hand in hand, supported by the latest digital learning program. The children and teachers who are part of this program and school are really lucky to be part of this beautifully bright green and healthy educational vision.The school is unique: its education system is completely digital and the building itself is highly sustainable. The school is designed and engineered in such a way that it scores A in the Frisse School Klasse (Dutch Clean school classification). The main reason for this high score is the focus on a healthy school climate by reducing the amount of CO2 through a high-quality ventilation system and by having green plants inside the school. The Frisse School classification is based on five elements: energy consumption, air quality, temperature, natural light and acoustics. On all five elements our average score is A, which is the highest score possible.
This will also be the first energy-neutral school in the south of the Netherlands. This means that energy usage will be very low; the school will even return generated energy to the grid thanks to the clever use of insulation, energy-saving measures, PV panels, 100% LED lighting and the reuse of rainwater for the gardens and toilets. Environmentally friendly materials and materials conducive to human health have been used for the building and the playground.
We have used Accoya Wood on the outside of the building. On the inside of the building, in places we used Fraké wood as a finishing material. In the gym, Birchwood has been used for the acoustic panels. The wood gives off a special feel and protects the walls during intensive use of the space by the children. There are many vertical and horizontal visual connections made throughout the school. The children can move easily within the school. In the autumn, spring and summertime, they can use the outer classrooms on the terraces.
The classrooms inside the building can be opened up fully and easily connected to the central corridor space, which is large and spacious. This corridor space can also be used by the school for other activities. This school takes a non-traditional approach to organising its classes, giving the users the possibility to connect their classes with one other, or alternatively close the classrooms off completely should the school’s learning programme require it. Environmental issues regarding nature and society are taught at this school, so that all children take on a future responsibility regarding the environment, and can in turn pass this knowledge on to their parents.
A fundamental understanding of our information society and environmental consciousness will have a positive outcome for the kids’ future; it is about dealing appropriately with future challenges regarding society and nature.
The founder and owner of UArchitects, Misak Terzibasiyan, is personally and professionally focusing on an international context as well as on the influence of cultural themes. This is mainly based on this ethnical background, whereas Misak Terzibasiyan was born in Helsinki (Finland) with Armenian roots.
UArchitects is an international office which welcomes different nationalities.
Our investigative attitude is expressed in the intensive dialogue we undertake with our clients. And the scope for reflection is not confined to the projects themselves; we also look into the wider cultural context of architecture and urban development. Reflection helps for interactions in another culture and it helps us to understand our position regarding general themes which are part of society. Understanding the identity and society is fundamental for us when we are designing projects in other cultures and places.