- Client: City of Amsterdam
- User: Esprit Scholengroep/ The 4th Gymnasium
- Project Team: Richard Buijs, Lionel Nascimento Gomes, Raymond van Sabben, Marieke Sijm, Bobby de Graaf, Laura van de Pol, Willem Jan Landman
- Engineer: Van Rossum
- Installations: Ingenieursburo Linssen
- Construction Costs: bbn adviseurs
- W Installations: Wolter & Dros
- E Installations: Croon
- Architect In Charge: Paul de Ruiter, Noud Paes
- E Installations: Croon
- City: Amsterdam
- Country: The Netherlands
Text description provided by the architects. In the first climate-neutral district of Amsterdam, the Houthavens, Paul de Ruiter Architects designed the 4th Gymnasium. An energy neutral high school that accommodates about 800 students. With its colorful appearance and societal function, the school building serves as a herald for the further developments of this area. The architecture of the building is in line with the scale and size of the buildings in the area, to make sure the school is part of the ‘community’ in the Houthavens.
Cultural Focus in the Design
The 4th Gymnasium meets all the qualities a modern school should meet. The curriculum emphasizes on culture and arts. Disciplines like film, drama, painting and drawing can be followed next to the regular curriculum. To enable these courses, we designed a studio, a cinema, a theatre and a laboratory alongside the regular classrooms.
Vibrant Appearance by a Playful Composition
The façade of the 4th Gymnasium has a vertical layering and is made up of several yellow, orange and red colored surfaces. These surfaces, each different in height, width and depth, consist of both transparent and colored enameled glass, and are surrounded by a wooden frame that works as a solar screen. The building is divided into three horizontal zones. In the plinth we placed the entrance and public programs. The classrooms and workspaces are divided over the first and second floor, and the top floor accommodates two gyms and a large rooftop terrace. This top floor is recognizable by its aluminium façade and is used after school-hours by sports clubs and the neighborhood via a separate entrance.
Next to this entry, the school has two other entrances. The south side provides an entrance to the semi-underground bicycle shed. On the west side, near the schoolyard, is the main entrance. This entrance brings you to the heart of the building. It's the place where students meet during lunch, but it can also easily be converted into a theatre.
We designed a diagonal optical axis from the main entrance to the outdoor rooftop terrace. In the atrium we 'hung' different learning squares - where students can work independently - and balconies that act as lounge areas. The learning squares are connected to the class rooms via corridors; by opening a sliding door the classrooms can be expanded combined with the learning square into a study landscape.
In order to achieve energy-neutrality we connected the school to the district heating of the Houthavens. In addition, concrete core conditioning is applied. The complex is isolated with high quality triple glazing and the required electricity is generated on the roof by means of solar panels. The 4th Gymnasium is a Clean Air School (Class B), which guarantees an optimal indoor climate. This has a positive impact on the health and academic performance of the pupils and the staff.