Secondary School Aalst
The Royal Atheneum in the city center of Aalst has outgrown its interbellum school building and is in urgent need of expansion. Since the existing plot size and playground surface is already limited, this proposal for a new compact extension stacks the entire programme into 5 vertical “landscapes”: 1. a covered playground with sanitary, 2. a duplex ‘learning landscape’ overlooking the playground, 3. a more intimate level with ‘places to think’ and a music room, 4. an experimental layer with STEAM-ateliers and 5. a rooftop sports field, with views over the city, stretching beyond the school grounds. Connecting these landscapes to the existing school are a wide tribune staircase and two circulation shafts.
The Capa-lab building is more than an extension. It is an instigator of (educational) innovation and therefore indebted to introduce a certain newness into this 90 year old school environment. This newness is made explicit in its geometry, materiality and spatial organisation, both inside and out. Linear classroom configurations make way for horizontal platforms, horizontality becomes an explicit and urban verticality, bricks are complemented with lightweight curtain walls and the new-build is seemingly hovering above the playground, visually detached from the existing tissue. It can function completely autonomously as well, introducing a certain flexibility the school lacks at the moment. The distinctiveness of the Capa-Lab allows for the right amount of identification and appropriation by its users and thus outs itself as an educational ambassador.