Annie M.G. Schmidtschool, The Hague
The Annie M.G. Schmidt primary school in the Hague offers a curriculum shaped by the core values of mutual commitment, concern and respect. With a view to laying the groundwork required for its pupils to succeed in life and work, the school devotes a lot of attention to the development of key competencies, such as creative thinking and collaborative skills. To assist in this effort, Ector Hoogstad Architects were commissioned to design a sustainable school building that embodied the school’s philosophy of learning by inquiry and design.
In harmony with its surroundings
The school is situated in a prime location within the protected townscape of Zorgvliet, a lush green area of the city dotted with museums and embassies. The new building houses 18 classrooms, a partly shared day care facility, an outdoor classroom, a playroom and a state-of-the-art gym.
To address the complexities presented by the urban planning restrictions, we designed the building as a simple, compact and easy-to-navigate three-storey volume that stands in harmony with its surroundings. Exits on three of its four sides allow pupils from multiple classrooms to enter and exit the school at the same time without impediment.
Vast main corridors facilitate easy circulation and double as cloakrooms. In fact, these corridors are spacious enough to accommodate students working in small groups as well as a series of play areas. Oversized windows throughout the school ensure maximum daylight penetration and allow teachers to monitor activities from afar. For the youngest pupils, we created a secure “village” in a peripheral area on the ground floor where they can quietly discover and acclimatize to a new world away from home.
A large central staircase leads directly to the playroom, which also serves as a theatre, thus underlining the importance of art and culture in the school’s offering.
Our design was informed by the Trias Energetica model of sustainability, resulting in a building with minimal energy demands and free of natural gas. The combined effect of the building’s compact form, its exceptional insulation value and the parametric columns in the east and west facades is an interior bathed in daylight yet protected from direct sunlight. A rooftop solar power system ensures a steady flow of clean energy. Last but not least, additional greenery in the form of hedges and climbing plants such as ivy provide natural habitats for local wildlife.