A Rust-Red Honeycomb: Children’s Centre in Amsterdam
Client: Stadtbezirk Amsterdam Noord
Architect: Moke Architecten
Location: IKC Zeven Zeeën, Banneplein 111, NL–1034 DN Amsterdam
In north Amsterdam, the Buiksloot district to be precise, there seems to be an unwritten rule concerning architecture. While residential buildings tend to be high blocks, there is a corresponding substructure of lower buildings to accommodate public institutions. This is the case with the IKC Zeven Zeeën: the two-storey children’s centre is home not only to an elementary school, but also a day care and a meeting place for parents.
The fence surrounding the grounds is rust-red, a vivid shade that dominates and unifies. The long-side façade is particularly striking: its prefab concrete elements feature scale-like, hexagonal embossments that evoke associations with honeycomb. The outer shell is complemented with round, wide-framed windows of various sizes. In order to provide shelter from the sun, most of the windows have awnings, also in red, that can be closed like eyelids.
At the centre of one of the long sides, there is a recessed area that does not fit in with the rest: this is the playground, where the children can romp and feel carefree. The façades here are clad with vertical wooden slats combined with sleek, rectangular windows.
The roof is another unique feature of the building, or rather the roofs. Five shed roofs are lined up a bit like a staircase. Photovoltaic panels provide a source of energy.
The children’s centre rises incrementally before visitors. Two wide stairways, one on either side of the main entrance, frame the entryway and convey a feeling of sanctuary. The ground floor has a spacious, bright central corridor. An open design facilitates both individual and group work. To the left and right of the corridor, glass walls delimit the rooms. The surfaces here have been done primarily in wood, which creates a cosy feeling and helps dampen noise.
With their strategies of natural temperature regulation and avoiding too much direct sunlight, Moke Architecten have created the Netherlands’ first completely energy-neutral school. Here, children and parents alike feel at home.