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international school almere 'giant gift in so many ways'

Erwin Budding

Recently, the International School Almere celebrated its official opening. The 650 pupils of the primary and secondary school are already attending classes here since September. Erin Wilson, head of ‘primary’, was involved in the process from the beginning. She tells us what that was like for her and how the design turned out.

“Our new school is a giant gift in so many ways. First of all, I consider it was a gift to be involved in the design process, because this was completely new to me. Considering the new building, we became even more aware of the importance of a gentle environment that supported connection. Therefore we really wanted a space where we could all come together, and opted for a layout that allowed both colleagues and pupils to cross paths spontaneously.

“The designs for the architect selection were all very different. The one by cepezed stood out as the simplest. I noticed that I was actually more impressed by the other designs at first. But given our requirements and wishes, cepezed was the logical choice. It just made sense, this was what it is supposed to be. I found it quite unambiguous that in spite of a first opinion, in the end, the clearest, most purposeful plan rolls out in the selection process.

“I have nothing but good things to say about cepezed. You all are thoughtful, patient, conscious, and aware. You really helped us to think about things that had never crossed our minds, and in a creative way. There turned out to be an overwhelming number of things to decide on! What makes it even more unique is that all this took place during the corona pandemic. Despite the strict measures and digital contact, cepezed still made everything happen, and even provided for a personal process.

“The multifunctional wooden staircase along with the ‘main square’ are focal points of our primary section. They provide cozy seating and a favorite place to learn, work or even perform. Also, so nice are the verandas near the Early Years to Year 2 classrooms. The effect is clear: the floor to ceiling windows and entrance-exit to the veranda bring light into the classrooms and the outside is never far away for our students. The veranda offers the little ones the opportunity to go in and out easily and also provides for us to take the learning easily outside. This is a great influence on their play and play is how they learn.

“For the same reason, we are very happy with the shared space throughout the building. This space allows students to work in groups and easily meet one another. All and all, I think the most beautiful thing about the architecture of the primary school, is the fact that the way the building is, you easily can see everyone. It is impossible not to see each other, even during a busy working day. That is such a gift. You can seek the solitude of a quiet space, but we still all meet no matter what.

“All the students love the cafetorium, as we call the space with the cafeteria and the auditorium. During the grand opening it was such a pleasure to see through the eyes of our older students what kind of impression our beautiful new home makes on them. You can hear that our students are proud of school. We see that in the cafetorium, even the older students love to sit on the little ones' chairs, who find that strange, but it is a playful and fun situation. The fact that pupils of all ages meet here brings out the best in the older pupils. And gives the little ones something to look up to, a future image. I see the cafetorium as a special place, because it is a beautiful space to make connections and celebrate our school community.

“The architecture is important, but without children, this is just a building. With children, it's a school, it's the children that bring the brightness, that's what lets it shine. The style of cepezed is somewhat like an empty canvas. Fortunately, it was built for us, so we can make it ours. This even applies to the plant, that climbs up against the windbreak in the library. Funny how this underlines our school’s credo everybody belongs here. ISAlmere, The World Is Here.”

→ Read more about the project here

Lucas van der Wee
Erin Wilson, foto Erwin Budding
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