Vocational education under one roof
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Urban Campus, Harderwijk

A stunning new campus for secondary, vocational and further education will shortly open at Westeinde in Harderwijk. The campus will accommodate these multiple levels of instruction in a complementary manner that creates an innovative and stimulating VMBO-to-MBO qualification pathway. Designed by Ector Hoogstad Architects in response to a brief by the Landstede Group, the campus will meet the highest standards of sustainability, offer operational flexibility and provide a home away from home for students of varying ages and backgrounds.

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Client Landstede Group
Location Harderwijk
Completion 2026


Architect Ector Hoogstad Architects 
Construction IMd Consulting Engineers
Structural engineering DGMR
Building services engineering Arcadis
Landscape design Copijn

The catalyst for this project was the Landstede Group’s conclusion that it would be advantageous to locate all its vocational activities in Harderwijk in a single campus-like setting. Consequently, the new campus will house the group’s MBO courses, Morgen College (secondary school for vocational education and training), StartCollege (including its further education and international transition offering) and its Engineering Academy (work-based training). Before approaching the drawing board, EHA examined the pre-existing buildings in which these activities took place to see what could be preserved and reused and what needed to make way for something entirely new.

To ensure the utmost ease of navigation, we’ve spread the operation across five sections of the new building. Four of these will accommodate the group’s distinct educational offerings but also offer shared facilities for all students. Each section will have its own unique character and atmosphere but will share an overarching design language with the other sections to ensure aesthetic coherence. The result will be a learning environment that unites disparate student bodies in a larger community while also allowing each “school-within-a-school” its own dedicated space. In other words, each student body will boast its own environment within the larger, fully equipped whole.

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The fifth section is a central hall that links everything together and is accessible via a centrally located main entrance. One of the most striking features of this hall is a dramatic staircase that starts as wide bleachers on the ground floor and corkscrews through the building, connecting all the floors at the differing levels of the new and pre-existing buildings. The hall thus extends into these floors as you ascend, creating intimate spots for social interaction along the way. And thanks to the hall’s clear-glass façade, this interplay of intermediate spaces and connections is visible from the outside, making this section of the ensemble the centrepiece of the new campus.

Councillor Marcel Companjen: “Our municipality is committed to giving students the benefit of a world-class education in equally world-class environments, and this new building will do just that for our VMBO students and equip them for life. It will also help us meet our continuous learning objectives in engineering, healthcare and safety training, thereby allowing us to better meet the needs of the labour market.”


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Sustainable renovation 
The 20,000 m2-plus campus was designed according to the 10R model of circularity, among whose strategies are the reuse of as many parts of pre-existing buildings as possible and, complementarily, the use of as much renewable material as possible. Thus, roughly 7,000m2 of the ensemble will consist of pre-existing buildings that have been upgraded to meet contemporary standards of thermal comfort. The remaining 13,000 m2 will come in the form of four new compact volumes that overlook enclosed leafy courtyards. We will salvage and reuse as much as we can from the pre-existing buildings, including their internal walls and ceilings.

All additional features and provisions will also be built according to the principles of circular construction. The new central hall will be an all-wood construction, and wood will also be the main material of the new façades. The base of the buildings will be constructed using dry-stack masonry, thus lending them to disassembly for later reuse. Facade greening will be employed to help boost local biodiversity. The courtyards will likewise be as leafy as possible and come with minimal paving, yielding a relaxing environment that complements the experience of being inside the buildings. Energy neutrality will be the starting point of all new construction. The entire project, including the pre-existing sections, will thus fully comply with the government’s BENG regulations, i.e., the requirements for maximum energy demand, fossil energy consumption and generation of renewable energy in new buildings.

The new Harderwijk campus will be a major cornerstone of education for a significant proportion of the city and surrounding area’s population of young people aged 12 and above. And when it opens, it will be the first time in the country’s history that an institution of continuous learning has been accommodated in such a sustainable, innovatively constructed and stunningly beautiful campus.


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