Sports Campus in Utrecht
Leidsche Rijn is on the edge of Utrecht and is one of Holland’s largest new residential developments. The architects felt that in order to make the school’s presence known in this setting – a blend of fields and low-slung, interchangeable domiciles – its design must be unmistakable iconographically. In addition, the intention is to foster socializing among the schoolchildren. Thus, a high school and vocational school, each with 900 students, are housed in one building. The four four-storey classroom wings are grouped around a central commons which accommodates the gym and the entrance hall. Courtyards between the wings result from the different geometries, creating a variety of visual relationships and providing orientation. Each school has subtly received its own identity. While the black concrete facades are identical, the tones of the glazed surfaces of each school vary: chartreuse in the high school and reddish-purple in the vocational school. The surfaces of the shared spaces incorporate both colours. Depending on light conditions, these shades of colours reflect different tones onto the white furniture, which was also designed by the architects. On the interior, to a great extent the structural members are the concrete walls were left raw. They are robust enough to withstand the rambunctious students. While the gym space is spanned by four steel beams situated on the exterior, each with a depth of 2.5 metres, the classroom wings are constructed of precast-concrete elements. The square-shaped sandwich facade elements – with 3.50 m sides – are not hung, but are stacked at the corners of the sandwich’s inner shell and stabilized via pins. The filigree floor, with an overall depth of 360 mm, spans from the beams along the central corridor to the facade, where they are suspended from the sandwich elements. In contrast to the interiors, the facades have a smooth, glossy sensuality. The horizontal cross-section of the outer shell ranges from 110 to 210 mm. As one nears the building and the angle at which one views the walls changes, the waxing and waning projections on the surface create an optical illusion: they appear to vibrate, and the envelope seems to have curves.