Text description provided by the architects. De Jacobsvlinder (Cinnabar Moth) School, previously known as the Prins Bernhard School, is a part of the restructuring of the Palenstein neighbourhood, a quarter of Zoetermeer near the centre, built in the nineteen-sixties. In architectural respect, the new school building forms the link between the urbanity of the Nieuw-Schoutenhoek housing complex currently under construction, and the small-scale character of the existing village cores of detached houses that directly adjoin the location.
The school provides primary instruction in the form of Adaptive Education, and has the aim of teaching pupils, who often come from underprivileged families, in a ‘stimulating and aesthetic’ environment.
The compact two-level volume contains nine classrooms organized around the heart of the school: a light, central, large-dimensioned hall. As a result of this clear spatial set-up, the scope for pure circulation can be kept to a minimum, while the available communal space is multifunctional to a maximum degree. The large stairway, completely clad with wood, is not only a point of elevation but also a public tribune with a view of the play area that can therefore also serve as a theatre stage.
Taking into account the central situation and the exceptional educational vision of the school, the ambience of, and the interaction with, the environment became the starting points of the design. Between all the various buildings that contrast in form, colour and material, the programme was designed as a simple rectangular volume with a pattern of large windows. The façade material is polymetric brickwork, with bricks of various sizes so that a tactile allure is generated. A large glass cut-out in the brickwork volume opens up all the activities in the strikingly green central hall to the outside world. In addition, two extraordinary elements in the hall attract much attention and fire the imagination of the pupils: the large staircase that has been built as a trapezium-shaped wooden item of furniture, and the oval volume at the corner on which a life-sized mosaic by the Catalonian-Japanese artist ISAO is visible, in the tradition of the mosaics made by his grandfather, ceramist Llorens Artigas, in conjunction with Miró. Elements on the glass and on the roof increase the magic of ISAO’s artwork.
De Jacobsvlinder is an exceptional sustainable school. The building has a GPR (Global Product Strategy) rating of 9 or higher on average. On the one hand, the school has been constructed from solid and maintenance-free materials and has a large degree of spatial and functional changeability due to its column structure. On the other hand, the building combines a comfortable and healthy indoor climate with low energy use, based on a geothermal heat pump installation with underfloor heating, a green roof, and CO2-regulated ventilation.