- Clients:GO! Onderwijs van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap
- Design Team:TV LOW & Abetec
Text description provided by the architects. Most things look better when you put them in a circle. This was the starting point of LOW architecten and Abetec in designing the new primary school Merlijn in the Belgian city of Tongeren. The result is a volumetry which matches the experience of a child that grows from toddler to young adult.
The new primary school Merlijn, located on a green plot in Tongeren, is characterised by the presence of various free standing volumes. The school is both functionally as formally an important link to the existing communal facilities around it (daycare, academy, sports infrastructure, etc.). With its central position, the building plays a key role while its round shape references a pavilion in the park. It organises, conducts and shapes the outdoor space without privatising or occupying it.
The specific volumetry of the building is the result of spatially organising the experience of a child growing from toddler to young adult – two phases in life that demand a different approach. Although the school building is conceived as a whole, two zones can be perceived. Firstly an embracing, enclosed and protective zone is created for the toddlers surrounded by classrooms. As they move on to primary school, they arrive in a more formal and rectangular volume that directs them to the wide world they will soon discover. The appearance makes the school blend with its surroundings. The organic low ring is the heart of the new green campus, while the volume of the primary school with its two floors relates to the surrounding existing buildings.