Architects: Buro II & Archi+I
Location: Gistel, Belgium
Architect in Charge: Tom Vandorpe
Designer: Kevin Huysentruyt, Fanny Dorme
Project Year: 2013
Photographs: Klaas Verdru
Project Architect: Xavier Nolf
Landscape Designers: Maarten Vansteenhuyse
Interior Architecture: Joost Claeys
From the architect. The new-build after-school care centre provides places for 112 children. The basic principles underlying the project are a high-quality organisation, a strong relationship with the garden, homeliness and expandability. Thanks to its embedding, scale and relationship with the overall premises, the building impacts little on its surroundings and blends naturally into them. The distance to the adjacent buildings gives the building a standalone look and feel.
Flexibility was a key design consideration because of the interaction between an after-school care centre and the playground organisation. The zoning is clearly functional with a personnel zone, a circulation/foyer zone and a play zone. The fl oor-heated foyer interconnects the different functions. The play zone has three large play areas individually accessible from the foyer. The middle play area can be added to either of the other two communal groups. Each large play area looks out on to the large, south-facing playground that thanks to its design forms an extension to the communal areas.
The compactness of the building refl ects the client’s wish to opt for a sustainable project with an E-level of 60. The building’s natural integration in its surroundings is enhanced still further by the greenery of the outdoor area and the natural look of the materials used: concrete for surfacing, wood (with an FSC label) for facades and light fi bre cement sheeting for the roof.
To let daylight penetrate deep into the building, a number of smaller patios have been included and they will also create a visual relationship between the different play areas. The sloping ceilings will allow integration of the engineering and facilitate the incidence of daylight.
An awning will keep out the summer sun, while a covered play area will provide shadow for the children as they play. Solar cells have been built into the EPDM roof. Together with the use of sustainable and maintenance-friendly materials, this building stands as a model for sustainable construction.
The wall painted in lively colours immediately catches the eye when entering the foyer. Inspiration for the colours came from a set of play beads for kids. Above this there is a line drawing of Dick Bruna. The coat racks in colour and the playful way the TL tubes have been suspended in a criss-cross pattern make clear that this is a building for children, one where playing and enjoying are prime considerations.
Walls and furniture have been given a multifunctional purpose. The furniture for hanging up coats and the play equipment for the infants double as partitioning from the rest of the communal area. The wall in the communal area for the 4th to 6th classes is one that the children can repeatedly paint over in any way they want. In all other respects the furniture and the wall covering have purposely been kept low-key (oiled solid wood in white) with the aim of directing attention towards the works produced by the kids.
The recognisability of the care centre will be enhanced by the consistent use of the logo of a sunfl ower. In each communal area there is an assembly point marked by a sunfl ower recessed into the rubber fl oor. A red fl ower has been put up on the outdoor playground.