Panta Rhei school interior by i29



Dutch interior architects i29 have completed the interior of a public school in Amstelveen in the Netherlands that uses poetry as a design device.


i29 commissioned poems from Dutch poet Erikjan Harmens for the interior of the Panta Rhei school, and used the words to create "carpets of text" on floors and walls.


Harmens worked with students to identify themes for the poems that reflected school life, such as insecurity and friendship.


The school building was designed by Snelder Architecten. Photographs are by Jeroen Musch.


Here are some words from i29:


‘Gossip about me, but don’t tell them the truth
Make them believe something bigger’


Architecture and interior

In the design for the new accommodations of public school Panta Rhei in Amstelveen (NL) there is a lot of attention on the balance between freedom and a sense of security. Snelder Architecten realised a building with many open multifunctional spaces where students can make themselves familiar with the teaching material.


The interior design by i29 links up with that perfectly and gives the spaces an identity that connects with the students’ environment and addresses them directly and personally. i29 let itself be inspired by the name of the school. Panta Rhei, meaning ‘everything flows’, ‘everything is in motion’. This led to a design that leaves space for the imagination of the users, offering elements that can be used flexibly, which also propagates the school’s identity.



Throughout the entire school poems have been applied to the linoleum floors and the furniture. The thought behind this is that there are moments outside of the classroom when you can learn and gain insights: often a casual setting is very inspiring. Maybe these poems provide a different perspective in an unguarded moment. i29 commissioned the poet Erikjan Harmens for this. He worked out themes like insecurity and friendship together with the students. The open texts leave room for their own interpretation. i29 modelled the poems in ‘carpets of text’ in which the letters stick together and seem to flow from each other. From a distance the texts form intriguing graphic patterns.


This imagery has been implemented by i29 in the new school logo, the facade and the signposting throughout the school. The furniture, which was made to measure, is informal and dynamic. Because work takes place both in groups and individually, i29 itself designed tables in asymmetrical, angular shapes. These shapes allow the furniture to be linked together in all kinds of ways and different configurations can be made, such as square, circular or star-shaped set-up. This means the pieces can be used in the general spaces as well as in the classrooms and staff rooms.



i29: ‘We think in structures and rhythms and not in taste or style. You can look at it as music which deals with harmony and contrast. One tone is not unconnected to the next and silence is essential.’ i29 has realised a spatial composition which has been carried out without compromise. Over the neutral basis of tables and benches there is a fine fabric of black elements; consisting of the poems, the hassocks and the Magis One-chairs. The furniture is strong and robust, but does not look bulky, rather refined. Remarkable in this context is the choice of the Grcic chair. It matches well here because of its technical aura and it urges you to think about the design and production process. It is a vocational school after all. Just because this is not a university, does not mean you do not have to challenge the students.


Field of tension

There is a field of tension between the free, blank character of the open spaces and the personal, almost emotional nature of the poems. Both have been carried to great lengths; in the sense that the spaces are very aloof and quiet, but the text carpets speak to the children in a direct and personal way.

Client: Panta Rhei, Amstelveen
Interior design: i29 l interior architects
Floor area: 4000m2

Poems: ErikJan Harmens
Architect: Snelder Architects
Constructor: Wouters Bouw
Interior builder: Zwartwoud

Posted on Friday June 12th 2009 at 11:26 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • tanya telford – T

    this interior is a little bit harsh for me but the aesthetics of chairs did remind me of this dutch guy that i collaborated on some sculptural blinds with whilst we were still at college – i think he might have worked & been inspired by similar ideas, i quite like the carpet text idea although i can’t read it so i don’t know what it says, but if its encourageing children to feel secure and happy i like it.

  • marius

    i think it’s very nice, but i don’t think that the pupils like that very much.. i think they would prefer something more colourful and a warmer atmosphere.

  • OG

    that chair can be seen just everywhere. probably not the best practical choice for a class room?

  • Rembo

    These kids are gonna grow up to be f*cked in the head.

  • I love these guys…this is the first project that i’ve seen from them that isn’t a small single family residence. They work just as well, if not better, on a larger scale.

  • jed_

    the grcic chair is good but it comes in many colours – why not use them?

  • reece-rsa

    uber cool

    “i think it’s very nice, but i don’t think that the pupils like that very much.. i think they would prefer something more colourful and a warmer atmosphere”

    I think it has been designed like that for a reason, to let individuals stand out and colour up the place !!

  • Antoine

    Very nice work, very elegant !… thanks !!!

    Using colours because it’s for a young public seems a “cliché ” to me…

  • paul

    Love it! Bold statement, nice accents of timber and playful forms. Yes, it does look quite serious but the cleanliness and simplicity is a nice blank canvas. Beats Grange Hill.

    Not sure where the vending machine goes though!

  • Well, well, this school interior is actually located in a country where a prison looks like this:

    If I had to use these spaces I am confused what space to prefer…


    another hospital combined with muzeum…..just for a kids;))))

  • antuan

    wow. black or white is the rule. the ‘carpet of text’ is really ugly

  • Erik

    The chairs are from Swedese. Not dutch. The chairs are the most playful items in this interior.

  • Erik

    black and white revolution? think not.

  • I liked this design

  • Laura

    It feels like there are little black spiders nests creeping out of the woorwork… I want to get out my broom and sweep them all away.

  • Ingo

    Gotta love that Chair_One! :)

  • olivier

    who can tell me the material of the floor or the info of the floor?tks

  • ZORKO (social-futurist)

    like other ”Twittters” I have some questions about the designs.. The black chairs are Beautiful, and mathematical in shape ,but do they sit allright ? I hope they do ,for all those kids and teachers who have to use them for quite some hours of the day..Looking a bit sharp-edged too..As for the ”wordcarpet” ,written in dutch :-for example; about respecting ”all other kinds of people”, says much about these times of still growing etnic and social diversity in the Netherlands today -and can be seen as part of the ”statement-culture” by writing certain facts on objects as a plan how to show and teach all reading individuals a set of humanistic ideas and values.. I guess this kind of functional ”statement-art” was also a part of the architect’s social philosophy of somehow educate, or tantilize’ persons using the ‘hallways and spaces of the school..All these letters and words seen to keep the brain active in a certain way.. All these (public) spaces in lots of brilliant white with black objects , are supposebly designed to avoid and neutralize all further unnescessairy local colourisation..Working with specific random – ,or meaningfull words to reach all individual minds is in the ‘idealistic approach-plan’ of the designer ,I suppose…
    So, here is not a Dutch old-fashioned school ,but a now a school presented as a new canvas of social ideals,and ideas ,still to be accomplished and redefined in the Netherlands today.. Nice architectual and conceptual attempt ,anyway..Compliments for re-designing such a structual institute as a school-building…I am also curiuous about the exteriour of the school (important too !) ,that ,aless is not shown..

  • JohnH

    Beautifully calm for an older mind seeking to escape…. But painfully bland for a child’s imagination seeking to learn.

    Nice graphic design, wrong context.

  • willem

    poor ladies. first try to find the name of the ladies toilet. then try to find the door ….. and don’t forget: be aware of the clean floor!