Web Ksa Campus Cadix Vva 9 Maurice Tjon Atham

Campus Cadix VVA

Van Averbeke's new campus

The monumental school ensemble designed by former city architect Emiel Van Averbeke was built between 1921 and 1925. The large building complex is conceived as a representative palace-like structure with three courtyards and clearly designed hierarchies. In the original design, both style preferences and explicit views on education played a role. In an eclectic composition, we find different façade compositions, floorplan types, roof shapes and very different inner courtyards side by side.

The pedagogical concept of the building as an institute consisting of different departments with distinct pedagogical aims and the stylistic development of architecture between 1900 and 1930 run parallel, creating a building complex that simultaneously refers to the architecture of The English House from the turn of the century as well as to the progressive architecture of Berlage and his followers. The eclectic architectural language positions the entire school at a significant cultural distance from the architectural character of its direct surroundings, the port area of the 'Eilandje' with its industrial hangars and working-class housing.

location: Cadixwijk, Antwerp
design: 2009-2017
construction: from 2017
competition: 1st prize, Open Oproep n.1726, in collaboration with Hildundk, Munich
client: Scholen Van Morgen / SO Antwerpen
structural engineer: ABT
advisor - technical installations: RCR Herent
advisor - restoration: Callebaut Architecten, Ghent
advisor - design interior gardens: Atelier Arne Deruyter
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The building complex was originally designed for three separate schools: the school for boys, the school for girls and the kindergarten. Despite their apparent uniformity, the kindergarten and the two schools present fundamental typological, programmatic and architectural differences.

The schools for the older children consist of two buildings each: a functionalist building block containing uniform classrooms at the east side of the plot and a building block facing the square to the west, containing all special rooms such as the gym, an auditorium and various specifically shaped classrooms. The walled courtyards in between connect the buildings; an iron pergola lining the courtyards on the ground floor gives acces to an outdoor toilet block.

The central kindergarten has been conceived as a monastic settlement with a green, playful garden at its very centre surrounded by a glazed cloister.

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current situation
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To soften the harsh original character of the former primary schools our interventions aim at the improvement of the spatial quality of the northern and southern courtyard. The central courtyard, with its monastic purity, remains untouched and forms the heart of a "historic parcours", a designated area on the ground floor of the school where we preserve and even reconstruct the building's original character.

As the new program requires additional spaces our ambition is to enhance the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces with our extension. We therefore add two volumes in both outer courtyards. In the northern courtyard, the additional volume contains multifunctional spaces and a generous entrance hall. In the southern courtyard, a similar building volume contains the rooms for the hairdstylists. Both new building volumes are light timber structures with cantilevering roofs with open facades facing the courtyards. The architecture of the new building volumes, with its slender steel columns, refers to the original pergolas. The roof is partly designed as an accessible terrace.

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Van Averbeke's garden facade shows the special colour scheme and the care with which natural stone elements and window frames have been designed

Contemporary interventions: courts, stairs, elevators, qualities, openings

In order to meet the technical, spatial and atmospheric needs of the school, new staircases and lifts are added in the front building (blocks D and F) and in the rear building (blocks A and C). In addition, the northern and southern courtyards are made accessible to both the fire department and wheelchairs.

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photography Luuk Kramer; the new concrete staircases in the front buildings
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photography Karin Borghouts; new and existing staircases in the back buildings
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Photography by Karin Borghouts; the new wings add new qualities, spaciousness and possibilities for use to the existing building. The new architecture and use of materials are related to the rest of the campus, the new building (NKD) and the CAD sheds.

Contemporary interventions

The architecture of the new building volumes is simple, light and contemporary. The slender steel columns refer to the original pergolas.

The volumetric structure is in keeping with the various existing façade lines and roof surfaces. The roof is partly executed as an accessible terrace.

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sections: 1 longitudinal section through the inner courtyards with new building volumes 2 Cross section through the inner courtyards with elevation of new building volume 3 longitudinal section through rear building with monumental attics 4 Cross section through the central courtyard and monumental attics
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photography Karin Borghouts; after the renovation/restoration, the circulation areas present themselves as the spatial backbone of the project

conservation: research, value assessment and reinterpretation

The plans for the restoration, refurbishment and extension of the school were developed in consultation with Antwerp Heritage and the city of Antwerp.

The proposed interventions are based on a thorough analysis and value assessment of the existing architecture.

In the interior, a 'historical route' has beenlaid out in which the most important spaces, in particular the corridor around the central courtyard garden, have been preserved in accordance with the original down to the last detail. The interior of the classrooms have been adapted to current technical requirements with respect for the original design.

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the research into the original colours and materials yielded surprising results and was decisive for almost all colour and material choices

The existing buildings have been completely renovated, with non-original elements removed and replaced with high-quality elements in accordance with the original design. This applies in particular to the treatment of the roofing and facades and to the collective spaces in the interior (corridors, staircases, auditorium, inner garden). The facades were cleaned, damage repaired and the non-original joinery replaced. The non-original dormers were replaced with new dormers of a contemporary design.

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Web Ksa Campus Cadix Vva 8 Maurice Tjon Atham
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photography Maurice Tjon; the renovated classrooms and corridors follow the colours found during the colour history study.

In the interior we restore the most important spaces carefully and in detail, especially the cloister around the central courtyard, the staircases and the corridors. The interior of the various classrooms will be adapted to current technical requirements with respect to the original design.

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Wherever necessary we restored or replaced original elements with high-quality elements crafted according to the original design. This applied in particular to the treatment of the roofing, the façades and the window frames and to the collective spaces in the interior (hallways, stairwells, auditorium, courtyards). The metal roofing applied in the 1970s has been replaced by ceramic tiles, according to the original intentions of the architect.

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Photography Karin Borghouts; after the renovation, the existing attics are spatial highlights
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Karin Borghouts, the entrance hall between the existing and the new