Piter Jelles
Becoming visible Nijlân is an expansive, calm district, on the south-western outskirts of Leeuwarden. It has both postwar housing and sixties developments – low- and high-rise. Bordering on the ring road and on the Van Harinxma canal, this district has a view of the wide and open Frisian landscape. Piter Jelles Nijlân is a large secondary school for 15,000 students, spread across four locations. Its senior staff have redeveloped the school's educational concept: departments with 100 students each, compiling their own timetable. In this concept, teachers reside in their own room, while students are moving around the building, thereby learning to work independently. At the end of 2003, an urban study by RAU showed that an entirely autonomous, compact building would offer the best solution in economic, environmental and functional terms. In order to achieve this compactness, a four-storey volume at the core of the building accommodates all class rooms for practical lessons. Grouped in circles around this core are the rooms for theoretical education, thereby enclosing the core like an arena. The lowest circle accommodates rooms for 'commercial use', facilitating students to sell their services to the outside world. Bearing fruit Peeling fruit: seen from the inside, the layer of protection disappears, while the world becomes visible. Seen from the outside, everything that is fruitful comes to light. The building's shape metaphorically reflects the process of peeling a fruit. A transparent unity of theory and practice makes the fruit, the pupils are the seed. Like half-peeled paring spiralling around the fruit, the facade partially opens up towards its surroundings. The facade is transparent where contact with the outside world is encouraged and alternately open and closed where pupils are working independently. As a token of appreciation and respect, pupils (and teachers) enter the building via a red carpet covering the stairs leading up to the building's main entrance The core of the building is home to practical subjects: mechanics and construction (ground level), kitchen and bakery (first level), electronics (second floor) and the building's technical facility room (third floor). It was a conscious decision to keep technical installations, such as pipes visible for pupils, in order to reveal the complexity of and to stimulate curiosity for the functioning of the building. Located around this core are the shops on the ground floor, with class rooms for theoretical lessons and offices above. The area surrounding the green campus is very diverse: semi-detached houses to the north, apartment blocks to the south, a shopping centre to the south-west. The volume of the school is too small to be an effective mediator between its urban surroundings. For this reason, the school's integration into its social environment is achieved by a sculptural statement embedded into a miniature park. The extremely compact rounded form allows the extensive use of glass while keeping heat and energy consumption to a minimum. The shape also minimises the required space for traffic flow and ensures short access routes. The teachers are based at the outer edges of the building. Students move through the building, learning to work independently. Large atriums allow daylight to penetrate into the central hall on the first floor. The timber strips covering the façade also serve as protection from the sun.


22 photos and 4 drawings

Building Activity

  • Nadezhda Nikolova
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