School and Sports Complex Antwerp

2018 -

AG Vespa, Antwerp

Jos Smolderenstraat, Antwerp (BE)

Democo Group NV

  • study
  • in progress
  • built

This design for two adjacent primary schools and a neighbourhood sports hall sits in the midst of New South – a new district near the city of Antwerp.
Appropriately called “Collective South”, it represents the only collective functions within the new district, which otherwise consists of housing, offices and small commerce.
Collective South subsequently assumes a distinct urban form, allowing its deviant programme to be understood from afar. Its façade is the clear result of the stacking of school functions for broad use on the ground floor, remaining school functions with elevated playgrounds on levels 1 – 3 and a public sports hall on the upper level.
A compact and concise hybrid.

Inside, emphasis is put on the interfaces between the stacked functions: collective voids or oversized circulation spaces are employed as the informal places to meet and gather. An atrium that stretches all the way to the upper floor connects the sports and school functions to the street and the “Heart” of the schools, which in turn, binds the two schools together and connects to the elevated playground on the first floor.
This entanglement of collective circulation is continued within the schools themselves, where there are no classical classrooms. Instead, there are continuous learning streets and project rooms with smaller corners, the so-called places to think.

The whole building thus embodies the vision of an inclusive Children’s Campus (Kindercampus), where the inhabitants are encouraged to independently take responsibility for their own (learning) trajectory by, casually, learning from and engaging with others.