“The plug-and-play precast timber system has been developed through close collaboration between the Circlewood partners. With this system, the new schools to be built in Amsterdam, and hopefully elsewhere in the Netherlands, will differ over time- The configuration can expand, shrink or vary to respond to different needs. When a school closes, the building can be completely dismantled and all components turned back into building materials.”
The system consists of standardized timber pillars and cross-laminated timber floor panels, connected by recycled steel joints. All components are manufactured under a digitally controlled process at the factory to ensure quick assembly and disassembly with the help of an electric crane. These components are arranged in a structural grid, leaving all partitions free of weight, to create spaces of different sizes and uses, including classrooms, auditoriums and gardens. The partitions are bio-based and can be adapted to support activities such as indoor climbing and vertical farming.
“The system components are durable, adaptable and easy to assemble. This provides schools with the flexibility to set up a learning environment best suited to their identity.
OMA and Circlewood envision schools as educational tools that raise students’ awareness of human impact on the environment. Contrary to greenwashing, the schools’ carbon footprint and resource consumption are displayed on information screens. The buildings are also inherently circular designs with minimal emissions due to a prefabricated construction method that minimizes nitrogen emissions, bio-based walls that absorb carbon, and components that can be completely reused.
As Circlewood’s creative director, OMA will help select young architects and landscape designers, and develop new schools in collaboration with them under the Innovation Partnership School Building programme. A pilot school has been developed in Amsterdam in collaboration with Studio A Quadrat. Functioning as an integrated children’s centre, the compact building features a unique façade on each side, with elements such as umbrellas and bicycle storage facilities that respond to the context and specific needs. The school has a large central room for the various activities of the children and a variety of openings on the façade which provide a frame for the children to perceive the environment. The program, design and appearance of the building can be refined and adapted over time.
Visualization of the Innovation Partnership School Building by OMA. Image by Studio A Quadrat, courtesy of OMA.
“The method is a kind of construction kit, with many of the technical requirements worked out beforehand. This allows us as architects to quickly establish a clear building structure, and we can focus completely on the end user and the client. can concentrate.
“Each school has its own architect who works well with the school board and context. Each school feels unique.”
The existing system, designed by OMA and Circlewood partners, will be further refined, with the potential to be implemented outside Amsterdam and the Netherlands.
Circlewood is formed by Noordreng Groep, Oosterhoff (ABT, Advisburo Lüning, BBN Advisors), Studio A Quadrat, DWA, Hedgehog Company, Hekko Spanten BV, Etuconsult, Lomans, Ferros Stalbov and OMA.