Early Childhood Centre in Wassenaar by Kraaijvanger

Rotterdam studio Kraaijvanger has added two new buildings to a school in a suburb of Dutch city, The Hague, with pitched roofs and rustic materials that reference the site's original role as a farm (+ slideshow).

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Kraaijvanger's additions to the American School of The Hague include a sports hall and a larger barn-like building that houses a nursery, 12 classrooms and a gym for babies and children up to the age of six.

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The new "barn" adjoins a sixteenth-century farmhouse that the architects are currently renovating. The site's historic significance meant that the height and shape of the buildings had to correspond with the existing agricultural structures.

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"We weren't allowed to build any higher than the old farm buildings so we had to bury the lower storey below ground," a spokesperson from Kraaijvanger told Dezeen.

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Wood is used for the external cladding to tie the buildings in with their rustic setting, as well as for internal beams and columns that continue the natural look indoors.

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"Because the buildings are used by small children we wanted to use warm materials for both the exterior and the interior," said the architects.

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Large windows in the sloping roof fill the nursery classrooms with natural light, while a glazed walkway traverses a void between that part of the building and an atrium housing the main entrance.

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A bridge crossing a public road links the "barn" with the sports building, which has sloping roofs covered in plants that further emphasise the scheme's agrarian aesthetic.

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Other schools featured on Dezeen recently include a wooden nursery and elementary school in France with a roof covered in plants, and an offset gabled classroom and play area at a school in England. See more schools »

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Photography is by Ronald Tilleman.

Here's a full project description:

School as farmyard: expansion of the American School of the Hague with the Early Childhood Center & renovation monument farm Ter Weer.

Client: American School of The Hague
Principle architect: Hans Goverde
Team: Annemiek Bleumink, Laurence Meulman, Patrick Keijzer en Nol van den Boer

As a farm with several buildings, The American School of The Hague in Wassenaar is expanded for The Early Childhood. This set-up fits the small scale of the area. On the location stood already the 16th century farmhouse 'Ter Weer'. The farm is restored and incorporated into the whole. The entire complex is integrated into the environment and the landscape. The school has a capacity for 250 children from 0 to 6 years and includes a nursery, twelve classrooms, a gym and a multipurpose room. The entrance is in line with the arrival route over the Deijlerweg and is designed as a monumental glass heart between the farm and the 'barn'.

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Dialogue between old and new

The dialogue between the two buildings, can be felt both inside and outside. The expansion partly deepened to encrouch the monument is not too much. The new and the old are connected to each other by a bridge in the new atrium. The materialization of the new building refers to a barn by applying wood substructures, caps and wooden parts for wall cladding.

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The barn houses the classrooms. Because of the inclined slope they all recieve enough daylight. The classrooms are characterized by the entry of natural light, the use of healthy materials and the direct relationship with the surrounding landscape. In farmhouse are located the administrative functions of the school a lunch room for 100 children, a kitchen, a nursery, a library and a local labor.

The sports facilities are housed in a separate building. It contains a gymnasium, changing rooms, a canteen and the clubhouse of the local handball association. The building is designed as two interlocking volumes with sloping green roofs, matching the shape of the extension and rural character of the area. A large window is placed in the gymnasium overlooking the connecting bridge to the main building and offers insight from the school and outside play areas.

Green schoolyards

Around the school are several playgrounds to suit the different age groups. They are designed by design studio van Ginneken with greenery, seating and educational components such as a vegetable garden. Hedges, wooden fences and gentle slopes locks provide a friendly separation between the different squares. In an adjacent site parking there are gravel pavement and rows of trees between the parking.

Total integration

The building is fully integrated into the environment and the surrounding landscape. The design of the landscape is based on the objectives of the school. A healthy environment where young children playfully learn why sustainability matters. By using water, natural materials and to show how energy is generated children come in a natural way in contact with this theme. The building makes use of solar energy, LED fixtures, cold and heat storage, wastewater reuse and craddle to craddle materials such as Accoya cladding.