Winner of Scholenbouwprijs (School Design Award) 2002
Winner of International Prize to the Best Architecture for Education 2003
Nominated Kinderarchitectuurprijs (Children Architecture Award) 2003
The De Vijver school complex is a prominent structure amid the predominantly two-storey buildings of the Wateringsveld Vinex development in The Hague. The middle point of De Vijver is a sports tower which contains games rooms and a gym in a vertical stack, plus open basketball courts on the roof. The whole building is climbable via the stepped ‘grandstand’ (which doubles as a theatre and a covered bicycle shed) and the sports tower. The building invites children to exercise, so addressing the increasing problem of childhood obesity.
The games rooms and gym are acoustically detached from the classrooms. The grandstand and the entrance with games rooms, which can be merged to form an assembly hall with an elevated stage, form the central element of the complex connecting outside to inside. This is the primary place for encounter and communication.
The brief comprised a primary school with 28 classes and a day centre for children with multiple complex handicaps. Teaching in the primary school follows the Dalton method, whose key precepts are freedom of choice, the ability to work independently and cooperation. Alcoves are attached to the corridors, meeting the need for separate work/play locations. These are flexible in use and may be coupled to a classroom together with part of the corridor. Within the formal main circulation structure of the building, designed to provide easy orientation, there is an informal circuit – a world waiting to be discovered. Some spaces are accessible only to children, such as the room under the grandstand.