for the neighbourhood
Columbus Dalton School, Heerhugowaard
A broad syllabus school is situated on the outskirts of an urban park in Heerhugowaard: a preparatory intermediate-level vocational (VMBO) nature-orientated school and a Dalton primary school, with a total of 14 classrooms, a gym, and a heart inside the building. It is a schoolbuilding for the neighbourhood. A building with a striking robust form in the park landscape.
The outdoor areas of the schools are part of a park. This park is aligned by a long zone of houses. The school building forms the end of this long row. In relation to urban planning, the school is a part of the wall. The school is made of brick with a coat of cement. At one end the building has a monolithic and robust main form, at the other it displays its fineness. The raised gym terminates the long row. This end dominates the scene because of its characteristic shed roof and large panoramic window. The gym has been raised to avoid a closed façade at ground level. The VMBO nature-orientated school is partly accommodated beneath the gym.
By placing the main hall and the play area in the middle of the building, these areas have literally and metaphorically become the heart of the organisation. Here the link between the ground floor, the crèche, with the gym above and the visual and spatial contact between the classrooms, is distributed over three floors in a spatially interesting and dynamic way. At this point the building is largely transparent, affording a view into the park. The primary school is designed in such a way that each group – lower, intermediate and upper – has its own floor. The lower has four classrooms on the ground floor, the intermediate has six on the first floor, and the upper has four on the second floor. Each group has its own entrance to prevent the youngest children from being over-shadowed by the older ones. Each group entrance provides access to its own playground; the playgrounds are connected with each other and are draped like a tablecloth around the school. The classrooms of the school are north-facing. On the south side, facing the park, is a broad multifunctional space of which the corridor forms a part. This is a light and open space that affords a view into the Park.