© architecture; Tom Thys architecten ism Adinda Van Geystelen
© images; Jan Kempenaers
This project for a new primary school building sits on a prominent corner site in Laken, a heterogeneous quarter of Brussels. The buildings ambitious program is organised in a volume that wraps itself around an intimate playground and grows to form a sculptural corner. Its ambiguous house-like silhouette addresses the double role of the school as both a teaching facility and welcoming open house for the neighbourhoods multi-cultural community.
Two entrances, one large portico for the community and a smaller entrance as a children’s drop-off point, provide access to a series of interconnected communal rooms of different use and size. On the top floor, benefitting from the pronounced roofscape, a double height multi-use space offers a generous view on the Brussels canal area. Two parallel stair cores link the different corridors and create a loop like circulation route through the building. All classrooms have small glazed displays towards the day lit corridors, creating an open and generous learning environment.
The dark yellow brickwork and the rhythm of dancing windows, define an architecture that expresses both weight and playfulness. The windows in the classrooms are set at different heights, tuning the relationship with the surroundings to the children’s age. Children grow into the building. The younger children in the first floor classrooms look out into the intimate green landscape, while the higher classrooms with views onto the Brussels skyline relate the older children to the wider world.
As a result, the construction defines both a protective and welcoming teaching facility; both an intimate and outward looking building; an open house where the traditional boundaries between education and community life are blurred.