Public Primary School ’t Hofje
New premises for a primary school with 16 classrooms will soon replace the current school complex in the town centre of Hofstade (Aalst). The oldest school building, built in 1867 and the former director’s residence will be preserved and integrated with the new school.
The new school virtually aligns with the current building lines and is organised around a green schoolyard, that is refurbished as a natural playground. This enclosed playground is not visible while approaching the school, but immediately shows upon entering the building.
On a functional level, the existing buildings that are to be renovated, naturally merge with the volume of the new school. They occupy a prominent place, giving identity to the school as they refer to the long history of the school.
The entrances are positioned on either side of the director’s residence; kindergarten to the left and primary school to the right.
Contrasting materials are carefully selected to emphasize the presence of the historic buildings in the total composition.
The renovation of the old school building from 1867 includes the removal of a suspended ceiling that currently conceals the wooden roof structure. The lofty space, with its original structure exposed, will be used for ‘out-of-school’ care for preschoolers. During school hours this area will serve as an indoor playground for the adjacent kindergarten classrooms. The classroom doors are positioned in the original façade, marking the transition between old and new.
The school is known for being open, child-friendly and approachable, which is expressed in the spatial layout of the new building, the emphasis on daylight and the transparency towards the schoolyard.
The primary school classrooms on the ground floor and first floor face the street. The corridors face the schoolyard. An oversized staircase incorporates double-height risers and podiums to provide seating, thus emphasizing the spacious and open connection between the two floors. These stairs lead to the canteen, the central meeting place of the school.
Structural Engineering: Gortemaker Algra Feenstra
Interior Design: Gortemaker Algra Feenstra
Mechanical/Electrical Engineering: DWA Installatie- en Energieadvies