Elementary and nursery school
Program: 1,550m˛ elementary and nursery school with 11 classrooms, multifunctional space, cafeteria, 5,125m˛ landscaping
Client: Het Gemeenschapsonderwijs
Phase: completed, 2009

This specialist school, whose education is based on the philosophy of ‘living is learning’, is situated in the village of Heverlee bordering the city of Leuven. The new school building is set within the garden of an old villa with a view onto the Arenberg Park. This park was designed in 1596 around the Arenberg castle, inhabited at that time by Karel I and Anna de Croy and presently owned by the Catholic University of Leuven. The position and modest appearance of the new school, allows the villa to remain as the image of the ‘living’ school.

The informal but uniform play-spaces around the pavilions that made up the former school were highly valued. They reappear differentiated in form and character as a ‘playway’ in the heart of the building, a patio, a veranda and as outdoor spaces such as an orchard, vegetable gardens and playgrounds.

All classrooms are orientated to the south and west to maximize sunlight in the rooms. Each classroom has its own unique garden that will be planted by the children. The garden is an extension of the classrooms and part of their learning experience.

All classrooms open onto the ‘playway’ which in turn connects to the multifunctional hall, the dining room and the life-lesson rooms. The ‘playway’ replaces the traditional corridor access allowing for a more interactive and social internal arrangement. Here space is not only functionally defined but is appropriated according to the needs of teachers and children.