Community school with three plazas
Het Spectrum is a primary school in the multicultural Schilderswijk district of The Hague and provides teaching for 24 classes which include children with over 30 different nationalities. The new school now forms part of the district’s fragmented urban fabric in which 19th century perimeter blocks alternate with large housing redevelopment projects from the 1980s and 1990s. The small parcel of land which was available made double utilization essential. Besides the two school playgrounds adjoining the street, a third one is located on the roof. This means children of different age ranges can take simultaneous play breaks without mutual interference.
The group classrooms occupy two L-shaped wings which flank a central core. The latter contains spaces for sports and games, an assembly hall/theatre, a mediatheque, a caretaker’s office and a staff room. The central core of the school responds to the wish for both encounter and surveillance. It offers children from ethnic minority backgrounds the security of a supervising father figure (in the person of the caretaker, teachers, parents etc.) while giving them an opportunity to learn about Western educational values such as individual freedom and personal development (in the form of multifunctional meeting spaces). A separate meeting space for parents has been included with the aim of involving them more in the school’s activities.
The column structure of the building gives the school the flexibility to respond to new developments in educational practice.