Aj Schreuderschool Main Fassade

house and garden

A.J. Schreuderschool for special education

To us a school is much more than just a well functioning institution. It's a living environment designed for a specific place and community, with inspiring yet timeless indoor- and outdoor spaces that offer both protection and an open view to the world.  

location: Rotterdam Lombardijen
design: 2008-2011/ 2013
realisation: 2011-2013
client: Stichting PCBO, Protestants Christelijk Basisonderwijs Rotterdam
advisor programme: Esther Dekhuijzen, Plusontwerp, Rotterdam
structural engineer: Pieters Bouwtechniek, Utrecht
technical installations: Adviesbureau vd Weele, Groningen
contractor: vd Heijden, Schaijk
photography: Luuk Kramer, Moritz Bernoully
Aj Schreuderschool Fassade Tree

The A.J.Schreuderschool for pupils with syndroms such as autism and down is such a specific school community with its own needs, culture and ambition. The building has been designed as a large house, with an inviting front yard, an enclosed garden, a large kitchen, ateliers and workshops. The different classrooms vary in size and atmosphere. The upper floor feels like a timber attic. Homeyness, clarity, good proportions and daylight, acoustic comfort and the use of warm, robust materials were central aspects of the design. 

Aj Schreuderschool Site Plan
Aj Schreuderschool Tiles Close Up
Aj Schreuderschool Tiles Line Drawing

The plinth around the building has been clad with ceramic tiles in different black and white patterns. Special mosaique tiles have been integrated in the overal pattern made by the remarkably artistic pupils during therapeutic art lessons preparing the autistic children for their new building.

Aj Schreuderschool Tiles Gutter

In places where the children can reach the rough masonry on the outer walls, they are clad with ceramic tiles. In the pattern design, coloured mosaic tiles made by the pupils of the school have been integrated. The final placement of the first mosaic tiles on the façade was celebrated in the presence of the director of the school, the art teacher and of course all the "artists".

Aj Schreuderschool Street

The blank side façade on the Spinozaweg refers to the architecture of the existing church across the street and is decorated with tiles.

Aj Schreuderschool Side Tiles

The art studio is located on the corner next to the main entrance. The studio, with its large diagonal windows and exuberant decorations, serves as both "gatekeeper" and display window.

The project consists of two loosely connected volumes, a two-storey compact building block, which is the actual school building, and a double sports hall. The two volumes are placed in opposite corners of the generously dimensioned plot. The buildings are complemented by two semi-enclosed outdoor spaces: an open, paved and rather urban square and a large enclosed garden. The garden offers space for recreation and play and serves as an outdoor 'classroom' for the subject 'green' that has become part of the curriculum in the new school. 

Aj Schreuderschool Ground Floor
Aj Schreuderschool First Floor

ground floor

1 entrance
2 classroom 
3 cooking workshop
4 meeting space 
5 living workshop 
6 textile workshop 
7 craft workshop

first floor

8 office
9 art studio
10 gymnasium
11 storage
12 teachers room
13 dressing room
14 bike storage 

The new school has been built in a modernist neighbourhood in urgent need of technical, spatial and social transformation. The project attempts to engage with the existing context rethinking the relationship between the interior and public space.

Aj Schreuderschool Paint Class
Aj Schreuderschool Corridor View
Aj Schreuderschool Stairs 2

Due to the mental disabilities of many of the pupils we were unable to design the the central space of the school, the corridor, as an informal, multifunctional space. However, these kind of spaces usually determine the quality of contemporary schools to a significant degree.

Specific attention has been paid to the design of the spacious circulation zone in the centre of the building. Generous skylights and voids allow daylight to penetrate the ground floor. 
Both façades and plans are flexible and timeless: in the future the school can easily be adjusted to the needs of various other types of education.
Within the budgetary limits of public school buildings, it was our ambition to design a building that addresses a wide range of sustainability issues such as durability and technical, social and cultural aspects. Structurally, the school is a combination of conventional solid walls and floors and a timber roof made of prefabricated hollow core elements with acoustic properties. 

Aj Schreuderschool Stairs

The sports hall combines a regular steel structure with an expressive timber roof and appears to be a completely timber-lined, roof-lit space. 

Aj Schreuderschool Gym 1
Aj Schreuderschool Gym Back

Gymnasiums too deserve daylight, pleasing materials, contact with the outside and proper acoustics.

Aj Schreuderschool Gym Close Up
Aj Schreuderschool Roof Light Gym
00 14142 35S Schreuder Tuin Favoriet
Aj Schreuderschool Garden 1
Aj Schreuderschool Garden 2
Aj Schreuderschool Garden 3

The outdoor spaces are intensively used as playgrounds, gardens and teaching spaces. Their shape and function change over time. It may take years until they take on their final shape, as both teachers and pupils will be closely involved in the process.

Aj Schreuderschool Overview