A striking bridge building
The Tichelrij Campus is located in the town of Sint-Truiden in Belgium. It consists of a complex of schools for pre-school, primary and secondary education. The new building for secondary education is strategically positioned across the street like a bridge, so establishing a connection between two parts of the campus. At the same time the building forms a new gatway to the campus. Beneath the building, a covered playground, a pick up/drop off zone, a meeting place and a multipurpose room are located. The forest of columns and many bench seats make this an attractive place to pause. The street that runs beneath the building is closed off during the day.
The new building is located a patchwork of open areas bordered by a line of trees. We reorganized the campus grounds into areas functional areas such as sports fields, playgrounds and areas for parking bicycles and cars, at the same time creating separate zones for children in different age groups. The “green” character of the project played a prominent part in the design. Among other things, we took care to preserve valuable landscape assets, and recycled the old paving stones.
The eye-catching new building is a free-standing, compact two-storey volume. A facade with a geometric pattern of dark and light Eternit plates reinforces the sculptural character of the volume. The interior space has a flexible layout due to its generic structure, which is legible on the outside. A central ambulatory connects three zones of linkable spaces. Within this neutral framework, the building can evolve with the changing needs of the user. The main supporting structure is a skeleton of prefabricated concrete members. This forms a large thermal mass which accumulates heat produced by the occupants. The height of the classrooms helps create a fresh, healthy indoor climate. Deep setbacks in the facade reduce heat nuisance in summer. At the top of each setback there is a tilting fanlight window with a sunblind mounted beneath it to shade the lower part.