HL Architecture, in collaboration with the narrative designer Nadia Troeman and DGMR, with their Antillean partner Madeco Project Vision, has won the competition for the design of a new multi-discipline school in the town of North Saliña, on the island of Bonaire. The jury, chaired by Professor Carlos Weeber and including Glenn Thodé, Governor of Bonaire and Enigma Giskus, Director of the Reina Beatrix School, awarded the HL Architecture team first prize. The competition was initiated by the Bonaire Office of Public Works and the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The design accommodates four different communities which when combined form a single cluster for 650 pupils. The individual elements include the Kolegio Papa Cornes and De Pelicaan schools, a kindergarten and a community sports centre. Each community has its own place: an atrium building with a central playing area. The four separate structures define and are grouped around a protected central courtyard that can be used by the entire school. The circulation space, while condensed as much as possible, creates a variety of interrelated educational and play areas. The elements of the design are integrated into the site where architecture and landscape combine to create a strong sense of place.
The essence of the project lies in the climatological approach; the dry and warm climate of the Antilles requires a suitable wind strategy, shaded facades and the use of materials with low heat capacity. The design combines the low-tech knowledge of traditional local construction with innovative ecological techniques to achieve a specific individual energy system for the entire building complex.