Unity in diversity
The Zonnebos school campus for schools of special primary and secondary education is located in rural ‘s-Gravenwezel, near Antwerp. The campus is characterized by system of pavilion-like buildings separated by a variety of in-between spaces. But this park-like layout has a problem: visibility on the campus is poor, so it is hard for visitors to find their way in the maze of paths. In our project, four new two-storey pavilions buildings are precisely positioned within the existing structure.
While maintaining transparency deep into the campus, we redesigned the public spaces on our principle of “unity in diversity”. An elevator and a boardwalk provide access to three of the four buildings. The boardwalk also covers part of the playground. The spacious central lift tower has stairs casually organized around the outside. Topped by a large clock, it functions as a landmark to aid routefinding. It also adds visual unity to the new pavilions.
Combined with the existing buildings, the new scheme gives a clearer structure for the campus. The green outdoor space is now a patchwork of individual but continuous ares. These areas, which include gardens for horticultural training, provide for children of various age groups. The central, sheltered courtyard with the lift tower and staircase forms the main entrance to the campus. It provides a sheltered area for dropping off and picking up the children.
The new buildings harmonize with the existing pavilions in their colour and materials. They are anchored into the surroundings by benches and plant containers which are tended by pupils. The characteristic shape of the roofs and overhangs give the buildings a family look. Units for air-conditioning are located in the roofspaces. Rooflights provide the stairwells with ample daylight. The facades, in which glazed and opaque panels alternate, are organized generically on the supporting structure to provide for a flexible interior layout. The facades match the modular design of the existing pavilions. The interiors are structured by a neutral, flexible system of columns and beams.