Small scale is key to Carmel College, Raalte

Atelier PRO has designed a completely new learning environment, encompassing both the architecture and interiors, for the senior general (HAVO) and pre-university (VWO) students at Carmel College in Raalte. The landscape design was made in collaboration with Oase Stedenbouw en Landschap urban planning consulting agency.

The challenge
The aim was to create a school that would provide over 1500 students with an intimate, comfortable atmosphere – a school where students themselves are top priority. To do so, special focus has been placed on small-scale design aspects. The result is a building with comfortable and engaging learning environments, where interior and exterior merge seamlessly with one another. 

Sector Director of Carmel College Ingrid Hegeman says the following about the new school: ‘Our teaching model was taken as the basis, which Dorte Kristensen and Martijn de Visser from atelier PRO successfully translated into a learning environment with the desired facilities. We are surrounded by a beautiful park, and so a key challenge involved the unification of internal and external spaces. The resulting building is modest yet spacious, small-scale and fully grounded in our vision of education.’

To achieve the desired intimate character, the building was divided into six ‘domains’, where students and teachers work together in small teams. All domains can be accessed via the central hall. The building takes the form of a hand: the palm is the central hall and the fingers are the domains, which fan out and allow the building to dovetail with the surrounding green landscape.

Salland bocage landscape  T
The design of the external space was inspired by the mixed woodland and pasture terrain of Salland, in which open and enclosed areas alternate. The main lobby abuts a large, sun-filled square and can easily be reached via the principal access road. Two open squares are situated north and west of the building, which are joined to the sports field and adjoining preparatory secondary vocational (VMBO) college respectively. Parking facilities for cars and bicycles are designed organically and surrounded by hedges. The building’s large glass façades mean views of the lush environs are never far away.

Inviting learning spaces
The lightness of the interior is in keeping with the school’s education principles. The outdoor areas also include many spaces favourable to learning, covering a wide variety of styles from informal group learning to secluded concentration. Light and natural colours and materials have been used, and each domain has its own highlight colour.Several furniture items were also developed by atelier PRO specially for the project, including large couches on wheels that can be2 divided into four smaller units.

Integrated whole
From school building to classroom, from lobby to silent workspace, from large to small, from inside to outside – the new Carmel College HAVO/VWO forms a comprehensive and integrated whole. During the opening, philosopher Bas Haring noted, ‘What we have here is a beautiful school building: a public asset that looks amazing, and which makes me very happy indeed.’

More details of this project design are on the Carmel College projectsite