032 ‘t Regenboogje primary school Etterbeek

New building for an infant school and space for after-school care in Etterbeek Brussels

Procedure Architecture competition
Client Flemish Community
Surface 735 m2 + playground
Phase completed
Date 2007 – 2014

A school in Brussels wanted real classrooms for its infants rather than Portakabins in the playground. The site lies bent between two streets. The primary school stands in a row of houses on one side of the plot and the other side was open and free.

The infant school took shape by arranging the four classrooms in a corner of the site. They enclose a fifth, communal space. The roofs of the classrooms, with their gentle slope, butt up against each other. At the highest point in the middle an opening was left to let the sun in.

A wall with a gate was built along the street, with a pattern in coloured tiles and peep-holes. A small hall provides space for anything the school has no room for. The three saw-tooth roofs enable the sky to be seen from the inside.

The building process is shown quite literally. Bricks are stacked on top of each other, beams are laid over them, and wooden boards cover the whole ensemble. The act of building remains a tangible presence in the finished school. Its construction tells the children a brief story about architecture.

The two buildings mark off the site and define two playgrounds. A frayed carpet of interwoven clinkers encourages play.