After transforming a historic castle into a secondary school for the Groenendaal College, Antwerp architectural firm HUB was approached once again by the same client to tackle another inspiring school project — an energy-efficient primary school addition in the middle of leafy Groenendaal Park. Fittingly titled the Park Classrooms, the recently completed project provides four classrooms and a large central gathering space for up to 90 Groenendaal Primary School children aged between 6 to 7 years old. The building opens up on all sides to the park and minimizes its environmental impact with a compact footprint, use of CLT materials and additional energy-efficient features.
Opened in September, the Park Classrooms were developed as part of a government-funded effort to create extra school places in Antwerp. The new pavilion replaces four classrooms, previously housed in containers, with a single structure with a compact floor plan and an emphasis on sustainability. To that end, the architects used circular construction techniques, including cross-laminated timber for the main structure and eco-friendly finishing materials and also engineered the building for ease of dismantling for maintenance and replacement.
Topped with a sloping moss-sedum roof cantilevered to provide shade, the Park Classrooms is minimalist and modern to keep focus on the outdoors. Large windows, glazed double doors, and skylights flood the interior with natural light and blur the boundary between indoors and out. Natural materials are used throughout the interior to strengthen ties with the outdoors. The four classrooms are each located on a corner of the pavilion and open up to the outdoors and to a central indoor “living room” that can serve as a reception or be used for cross-classroom activities.
“They were created with ‘quality of life’ in mind, which is based on the vision that sustainability is more than just energy efficiency and that architecture departs from building a liveable environment,” explain the architects. “The four classrooms that surround this space all have double external doors that give access to a covered outdoor area in the park. In this way, the children can also work or play outside, in the immediate vicinity of the familiar classroom environment.”
Images © David Jacobs