This historical school building has a central location on the school site in Wispelbergstraat.
The street façade of the existing building on the site, the school designed by the municipal architect A. Pauli in 1882-83, is mentioned in the inventory of Architectural Heritage and had to be restored as part of the new project. In consultation with Ghent city council’s Department of Monuments & Architecture, the dimensions and the visual appearance of the wing of the existing building along Wispelbergstraat were retained.
On the basis of these preconditions, the new programme was integrated into the dense site of the Athenaeum Wispelberg.
SCHOOL COMMUNITY – CONNECT & ASTONISH
The volume behind the historical street façade was retained. The gymnasium, a solid ‘box’, hovers above the multipurpose hall and the administrative offices, which, with their glass walls, are fully open to the existing playgrounds and outdoor areas between the buildings on the site.
In order to respect the existing façade with its openings as much as possible in the context of the new programme, the floor levels of the volume behind it were modified. This gives the ground floor with its multipurpose hall a higher ceiling. Behind the large windows on the first floor is a multipurpose classroom. The administrative area lies strategically adjacent to the present main entrance to the school in Wispelbergstraat. Its floor level connects up with the surrounding buildings and the playground between them. The highest floor level in the multipurpose hall connects up with the playground on the eastern side of the new building, which was designed at the same time. Aside from this, the floor level of the multipurpose hall descends towards Wispelbergstraat by 45 cm in two steps, to link up with the floor level of the basement area under the existing wing.
The space behind the fronton in the street façade, the existing gymnasium, is kept completely open as an entrance hall and stairwell with entrances from both the street and the school site itself.
In this way, the various users of the building are guided to their different destinations from the building at the centre of the site. The staircase in the entrance hall leads to the gymnasium via the bridge. At level +1 the corridor along the façade connects the changing rooms to the gymnasium and the multipurpose classroom. The level of the floors in the corridor and the multipurpose classroom connect up with the underside of the window openings in the historical façade, so that these spaces give the school’s activities a presence in the street scene. The size of the gymnasium is in accordance with official competition standards to enable it to be used regularly after school.
A ‘distance’ is kept between the volume of the gymnasium and the retained wing of the school.
This void enables visual relationships between the various components of the programme and allows natural light deep into the multipurpose spaces under the gymnasium. In the basement there are a few additional rooms for technical utilities and archives.
The gymnasium and multipurpose rooms can be used separately and simultaneously. To make the maximum use of the school infrastructure possible outside normal school hours, several entrances have been provided from the entrance hall.