Everaert Collage Uit Pergola

youthful backyard

youth facility Everaertsstraat Antwerp

How do we transform a narrow and fully built courtyard in a densely populated neighbourhood into a green and inspiring learning and living environment? How do we build a school on such a location that feels like a home to children and young people from totally different backgrounds? And how do we ensure that both indoor and outdoor spaces are generous, sturdy and light enough to stimulate appropriation and initiative?

Municipal Education Antwerp urgently needs additional school capacity in its inner city districts. The municipality therefore organised an invited competition for a combined school for young children and spaces for youth groups in Antwerp North making use of an existing property. Having won the competition we will transform a number of existing buildings, including a former factory building into a spacious multifunctional facility for the youth. On the adjacent eastern part of the site we replace several structures of lesser quality with a new playground, a new gym and purpose built classrooms for the youngest and oldest children of the new school community.

location: Antwerp BE
status: competition design, 1st prize
installation and sustainability advisor: JanPiet vd Weele
illustrations: Rotraut Susanne Berner
Everaert Inplanting


Both Everaertsstraat and Biekorfstraat are long straight urban streets with flat facades built in the early 20th century. The gleaming beauty of the typical glazed masonry is exceptionally charming and tells a unique story of a densely populated neighbourhood hiding a harsh reality behind a –literally- shiny surface. Virtually the entire block is designated as valuable conservation area. However, the value of the architecture and its protected status say nothing about the quality of living in the neighbourhood. Today we mainly see closed curtains and decay; a casual glimpse inside the building blocks reveals the vast but cramped character lacking green and air. The new school project needs to change the situation. But any new intervention requires the utmost respect for the undisputedly unique architectural value of the area.

Everaert Axo North
Everaert Axo South
Everaert Existing Facade
Everaert Existing Aerial
Everaert Existing Courtyard

Between the lines of the project brief, the client describes an ideal, contemporary living and learning environment for younger and older children. We translate this ambition into the architecture of the entire ensemble. New and renovated buildings and outdoor spaces designed as outdoor rooms, terraces and gardens will soon form one coherent whole.

Everaert Collage Uit Hof
Everaert Diagram Programme

The starting point is to generate maximum value, natural light and spatial quality within a site previously conveying the opposite (....). This results in a well considered, balanced complex project that carefully respects the possibilities and limitations of the patrimony.

(competition jury rapport)
Everaert Axo Green Transp
Everaert Collage Uit Ouders
Everaert Collage Uit Pergola
Everaert Collage Uit Pergola Top

The renovated schoolmaster's house on Everaertsstraat plays the role of gatekeeper. Once inside, more and more play areas become visible in the depth of the building block.
Parents are only welcome in the first part of the courtyard, the "parent square". The protected children's terrace behind it has been designed as an outdoor classroom for the youngest children and forms an extension of the classrooms on the ground floor.
The large playground is bordered by a high, slender pergola. Like a wide canopy, the pergola points the way to the actual entrance doors of the school buildings on both sides of the square.
By dividing the playground over different levels we create a versatile learning environment offering opportunities to play, to garden, to hang around, to sit quietly and to see and be seen in different ways. The outdoor spaces are also suitable for outdoor education.

Everaert Diagram Entree
Everaert Collage Entree School
Everaert Collage Entree Gym
Everaert Collage Entree Jeugd

During daytime, pupils, parents and visitors use the main door at Everaertsstraat 97. In the evening hours and at weekends, the design for the new school site offers more possibilities. Sport clubs enter the gym through the gate in the Biekorfstraat; the youth clubs make use of the gate at Everaertsstraat 69. The fact that the three ports belong to the same organization is clearly communicated by the design.

Everaert Axo Refter Transp
Everaert Plan Kelder
Everaert Plan Bg
Everaert Plan 1V
Everaert Section Tech

After the renovation and redevelopment the main building retains its loft-like charm. Glazed verandas on both sides improve the insulation of the building without affecting its characteristic appearance. At the same time, the verandas ensure that in all interior rooms windows and doors can be opened– while at the same time preventing nuisance or privacy problems with the residents of the adjacent gardens and houses. A large void in the middle of the room ensures sufficient daylight and green.

Everaert Existing Interior Ground
Everaert Existing Interior Ground Floor
Everaert Existing Interior First Floor
Everaert Collage In Refter

The project brief includes large classrooms and spacious areas for dining, working and playing but no corridors. This special fact we take literally. We propose a school without corridors exclusively consisting of multipurpose rooms. In the design we don’t make a distinction between 'learning streets' and dining areas to make sure that all areas can be used at any time of the day.
Due to the large spatial differences within the complex, each unit and age category has a specific location tailored to the needs of the age groups. 

Everaert Collage In Unit1
Everaert Collage In Unit3
Everaert Collage In Unit6
Everaert Section Long

longitudinal section

Everaert Collage In Poly
Everaert Collage In Aula
Everaert Collage In Keuken

For the youth clubs we renovate the existing brick building at the western edge of the plot. In the charming pitched roof building each youth club has its own space and privacy. The spaces have a unique atmosphere feeling very different from the school. The picturesque character of the existing outdoor space we preserve as much as possible. The youth clubs share their kitchen with the school and have access to all multipurpose areas after school hours.

Everaert Montage Jeugdplein
Everaert Section Short

cross section

We propose to situate the new gymnasium in the basement in a new building adjacent to the Biekorfstraat. Due to the use of daylight and the timber ceiling and panelling the large hall is a pleasant space with good acoustics, suitable for different sports and activities without problems with glare or privacy.
The oldest children use the roof of the gym as their private terrace and school garden, adjacent to their purpose built classrooms in the new attic facing the Biekorfstraat.

Everaert Collage In Entree
Everaert Collage In Gym
Everaert Montage Biekorfstraat

The new façade at Biekorfstraat made of glazed brickwork seamlessly fits into the existing terrace. The colour scheme refers to the palette of the existing early 20th century architecture in the area.
The proposed pattern is a combination of a graphic abstraction of classic cornices and elements we find in the close vicinity of the location. The façade on the ground floor is kept somewhat closed due to the privacy of the sporting students.

Everaert Existing Facade Biekorf
Everaert Existing Facade Street