From The Netherlands an innovative eco-sustainable school that uses for the first time solar energy as a source of renewable energy for both power and heating

The architecture studio Delft Cepezed has recently completed the project for a modern sustainable school design: the Graafschap College in Doetinchem (The Netherlands). Differently from any other school building in this country, the newly designed building avoids the use of natural gas in favor of a solar power supply that’s 100 percent electric.

The new school building has been designed for the students of the education departments Sport & Movement and Security & Craftmanship. The structure guarantees a healthy learning environment, maximizes natural light access and panoramic views.

As a tribute to the numerous oak trees that grow around the building, Delft Cepezed architects thought to partially wrap the structure with a tree shaped stainless steel mesh that also functions as solar shading.

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Green is the project’s main colour. The building’s interiors are designed to have large openings and perspective views, creating a connection with the external park. The building also has terraces, roof gardens and both internal and external green areas.

Built to host more than 700 students, the eco-sustainable school of Graafschap is located in the Sportpark Zuid, a big park with sport equipments. The large central atrium is shaped as a cascading landscape, named The Midfield, in reference to sport and teamwork.

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The entrance hall, a series of staircases interconnects to the open space, is used for informal encounters and a place where to read and study. Large strip windows on the roof open over the Midfield bringing in a lot of natural light, while the combination of LED lightings with smart sensors reduces the consequences of artificial lighting.

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The Midfield is surrounded by a corridor that allows the access to classrooms and the cafeteria on the ground floor, encouraging student’s interaction.

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To facilitate the view within the surrounding park and give an appearance of a pavilion structure immersed in a green environment, the school has been elevated on a basement and put on a raised floor. On the lower ground floor level there are parking spaces for bikes and cars, changing rooms and other services.

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With regard to the façade, the architects alternated glass “voids” made by glass to black aluminium panels to create an elegant and modern look. A second skin of perforated Corten-steel with the shape of oak trees, has been placed on the east, west and south sides of the building reducing the excessive sunlight without completely preventing daylight from coming into the building.

The Cepezed interieur studio took care of the interior design and adopted a contemporary aesthetics using brighter colours and patterns that recall the concept of sport and movement (theme that recurs throughout the entire building).

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In addition to solar panels on the roof, this first model of eco-sustainable innovative school also uses solar thermal heating for heating water: the building is totally autonomous and can be considered the first passive climate control school in the world.

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