Energy-neutral Community School in the Houthavens

The energy-neutral building – situated in Houthavens, a former dockland district in Amsterdam – is a compact, robust block built up of prefabricated brickwork facade sustainable elements with a finely detailed rosette relief, with deep reveals and with glazed openings in varied rhythms. It is topped by a cornice which integrates with tall, narrow windows.
The park side has a double-height loggia facing the sun, as well as a terrace linked to the restaurant and the gym, which is for hire. The terrace and the school garden are also usable as a lunch venue or for open-air educational activities.
The building projects a welcoming air, with its wide oriel on the street side, inward-curving entrances, the double height loggia, large areas of glazing and double height outward-opening doors on the ground floor.

Multi-functional, flexible building design
The future-aware structure consists of a flexible shell with wide spans supported by columns. This allows for continuous floor slabs with a maximal freedom of subdivision. The interior accommodates a variety of functions.
The number of classrooms can increase or decrease in exchange for rentable business space with a separate access.
Central to the building is a multifunctional “sports tower” consisting of a vertical stack of playrooms, an assembly hall, the gym and outdoor play space on the roof. Group activity rooms are disposed around the sports tower in a continuous ring, all adjoining the facade with ample natural light and ventilation. This principle results in a flexible, dynamic building with numerous options for interchanging of functions.
The high ceilings present opportunities for the highly efficient use of space with added entresol floors. The group activity rooms can be linked by means of flexible partitions to form larger spaces.

Sustainability: an energy-neutral building, “Fresh Schools” standard, Class A
Achieving an energy-neutral school that satisfies the Fresh Schools Class A standard is a multidisciplinary task for the design team. It requires an integrated approach to architecture, structure and building services. Every possible energy-saving measure is incorporated.
The smart use of materials in combination with the flexible, compact interior organization generates a highly sustainable building. The HVAC and lighting systems play an important part in this respect. A mass with a large thermal accumulative capacity (concrete core activation) reduces the peak energy requirement. Sustainably generated district heating/cooling is combined with an air conditioning system that incorporates an efficient rotary heat exchanger. CO2 metering is used to ensure that the ventilation system comes into action only when needed, thereby adding to interior comfort without wasting energy. Energy-efficiency measures also apply to the lighting, which uses low-power luminaires actuated by daylight sensing and presence detection.
The residual energy demand is met by rooftop photoelectric panels, the net result being an energy-neutral building.


Amsterdam, NL, 2011-2015
Highlights, Mixed use, Public Buildings, Schools

Community school Houthaven: 2 primary schools, day-care centre with 4 groups, pre-school, after-school care, gym, theatre, restaurant and office spaces.
Fresh Schools: Class A

The city of Amsterdam, stadsdeel West

architect / total engineering
Marlies Rohmer Architects & Urbanists

Marlies Rohmer

Ronald Hageman
Martin Koster
Floris Hund
Roland Herpel
Begoña Masiá Albelda
Wiet van Asten
Jan Hora

consulting offices
BV Bouwadviesbureau Strackee
SchreuderGroep Ingenieurs/adviseurs
Nelissen Ingenieursbureau b.v.
Aldus bouwinnovatie



GFA: 6.810 m²


Copyright Marlies Rohmer Architects & Urbanists