A new community school called De Matrix stands at the centre of the new Marslanden housing estate in Hardenberg. It is a striking building which serves as a meeting place for people of all ages. The scheduled functions include two primary schools, a childcare facility, a toddler playgroup, a physiotherapy/speech therapy practice, gyms and conference rooms. The total functional space is divided into central ‘heart’ which is linked to four more intimate clusters. The clusters provide identifiable accommodation for the individual participating users. Their column structure makes it possible to provide an à la carte interior layout for each user. The central section of the cluster can, for example, be used as a play hall, a computer room, a library or a waiting area. The central heart of the building consists of an assembly hall which can be merged with its adjacent classrooms to provide a single large meeting hall for conferences, festivities, religious services etc. The gyms are situated above this space, and the central heart is topped by a rooftop sports ground. The building is climbable: the staircases leading to the rooftop sports ground may be used as play apparatus, and pupils can learn through adventure and discovery in the surrounding grounds. The design of the facade cladding, a cassette relief consisting of large fibreglass-reinforced polyester units, was an outcome of our desire to design a contemporary building with a youthful appeal, but also with a robust look and a richly ornamental texture.
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