Serge Schoemaker architects has injected a new lease of life into a Primary school in Haarlem, The Netherlands. By introducing a number of architectural interventions to add light, air and space to the 1960s school building, the firm hopes to demonstrate that the renovation of dutch post-war school buildings is a valid alternative to the current trend of demolition and new construction.
Piramide Boerhaave Primary school is part of a characteristic green strip in the Schalkwijk district of Haarlem. The main block was built as a Primary school in 1964, and a gym and kindergarten were added in 1967. With its efficient floor plan and partly standardized construction the school was the precursor to a series of patio schools built in the Netherlands in the 1960s.
More recently the school had a growing reputation as a problem institution, with a declining number of students, introverted building and out of date facilities and appearance. Serge Schoemaker architects was appointed to oversee the renovation and extension of the Primary school after a design study carried out under the umbrella of the Mevrouw Meijer Foundation in 2015.
The project aimed to demonstrate a functional alternative to demolishing post-war institutions in favour of retaining and expanding on the existing qualities of the school. The design for the renovation and extension is defined by the original clear corridor arrangement of the central structure.
The toilet blocks once positioned at the end of the corridors have been removed to open up views of the surroundings, giving the school an open character. Both inside and outside, large lime-green window frames now mark the ends of the corridors, forming part of a totally new colour palette. The largest patio has been roofed and furnished as a multipurpose auditorium.
The vertical rooflights overhead have been positioned to allow daylight to enter from various sides, without experiencing annoyance from direct sunlight. The required storage units have been created inside seating elements, custom made in birch plywood, which enclose the sunken auditorium. The carefully designed, half-open hall adds a new spaciousness to the school, providing extra space for group activities and celebrations.