This project for a new primary school building sits on a beautiful neo gothic site in the centre of Bruges. The proposed building with its pronounced roof scape seeks to establish an empathic relationship with its historic context. Its refined brick architecture with a strong vertical articulation and deep red colour addresses the neo gothic theme of the historic neighbouring buildings.
The buildings careful positioning and complex form intensifies the experience of some dynamic perspectives on the site. As such, a first block of classrooms completes the fragmented street and guides the view towards the beautiful gable end walls of the existing administrative building. On the site itself, a second block of classrooms seeks a relation with the larger existing school building creating an exciting play area with views on the surrounding city gardens. A more intimate covered play area, where a line of columns enhances the proximity of the old brick wall, defines the main entrance to the school.
Two prismatic stairs offer generous vertical circulation routes through the building, providing access to 6 classrooms. The atmosphere in these teaching spaces is strongly determined by their position in the building, providing varied views onto the street and the rhythmic neo-gothic facades of the surrounding buildings. The classrooms on the first floor have an extra window in the end wall opening up views on the site.On the second floor rooms have a mezzanine benefitting from the extra height formed by the pitched roofs.
As a result, the construction defines a generous and welcoming teaching facility; a daring and playful set of spaces with varied levels of intimacy; children can run under, between and next to the architectural elements, intensively experiencing the ever changing perspectives between old and new. Despite scarce public resources, a strong new image is generated by an architecture of sobriety; an image the school’s small community can fully identify with.
The project received the ‘Prijs voor Architectuur West-Vlaanderen 2015’, a quadrennial award for excellence. The jury praised this: “discreetbutresoluteensemble of classrooms.The massing of the brickbuilding performs acontrolledpas-de-deuxwiththeexistingschool... Despite scarce public resources the architects deliveredan architecture ofsobrietythatmakesagenerousimpression in its spatial experience.‘De Springplank’ marks akind of standard, anexample ofpublicarchitecture that sets modestyand servitude as the norm.”