Delft-based architectural office cepezed recently completed a solar-powered branch for Graafschap College in Doetinchem that — unlike most school buildings in the Netherlands — eschews natural gas in favor of a power supply that’s 100 percent electric. Built for the students of the Sports & Exercise and Safety & Craftsmanship departments, the new school building prioritizes a healthy indoor learning environment that maximizes access to natural daylight and views of the outdoors. In homage of the many oak trees that grow around the building, the architects partially wrapped the structure in tree-shaped weathered steel cladding that serves as a double skin for solar shading.

black building with giant weathered steel tree shapes over the facade and a sign that reads "Graafschap College"

Built to house approximately 700 students, the new Graafschap College branch at Sportpark Zuid features at its heart a large, light-filled atrium named The Midfield in reference to sports and teamwork. The Midfield is organized into a series of cascading terraces with large landing areas that serve as informal meeting spaces. The glass atrium roof floods The Midfield with natural light and is combined with sensor-enabled LED lighting to reduce reliance on artificial lighting.

stairs with landing spaces that have black and blue seats

person walking next to a bright orange glass wall

“In order to be able to look over the car park from the ground floor, and to give the building the appearance of a pavilion in green surroundings, the school has been elevated by a half-story and placed on a basement,” the architecture firm noted. “Beside the car park, the height difference is bridged by an elongated, landscaped staircase, which also incorporates a ramp.”

Related: Green-roofed Copenhagen sports center is open to the public 24/7

room with green glass wall and green seating

locker room with blue lockers and mailboxes built into the walls

For the facade, the architects installed alternating strips of glass and black aluminum panels to create a sleek and modern appearance. A second skin of perforated Corten steel cut into the shapes of oak trees is laid over the east, west and south facades of the building and helps deflect unwanted solar gain without preventing daylight from entering the building. cepezedinterieur handled the interior design, which also follows a contemporary aesthetic but with brighter colors and patterns that allude to sports and movement. In addition to solar panels, the school also uses solar boilers for water heating.

+ cepezed

Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

view from ground of weathered steel tree