International School Utrecht

Utrecht/ The Netherlands

Size/ 17,210 m²
Competition/ 2nd prize in an international competition, 2019
Status/ Design proposal
Client/ International School Utrecht/ Municipality of Utrecht
Lead Architect/ Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
Engineer/ Royal Haskoning DHV
Visuals/ Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

Located in the vibrant collegiate city of Utrecht, The Netherlands, the International School Utrecht will accommodate 1,200 children aged 4 to 18 from diverse international backgrounds. The educational facility will unite primary and secondary education under one roof welcoming community of students, staff, and parents. The International School Utrecht is designed as a small town where “neighborhoods” are connected by “boulevards” and “alleyways,” “courtyards” and “squares.” This city-inspired framework places students and faculty in a safe, sustainable, social, and physical learning environment.

The school's main entrance opens into a large atrium that forms the connection to the rest of the building.

Through the use of color and materiality, the building’s exterior has a warm playfulness that relates to the neighbouring buildings. The terracotta color palette complements the surrounding green area and the greenery on school’s own terraces. This warmth is carried through to the interiors where perforated timber elements and acoustic ceiling panels enhance the acoustic quality necessary in a building constantly buzzing with boisterous little voices.

At the International School Utrecht, learning can take place inside and out. A series of atriums and southwest-facing terraces promote free flow between the heart of the building and the surrounding green fields. The terraces are where children can learn through movement and hands-on activities such as yoga, gardening, and art alfresco.

The youngest children spend most of their days on the ground and first floors, while the secondary students’ classrooms are vertically arranged around the large atrium. The simple finishes in the classrooms are bound by glass openings that provide visual connectivity and plentiful daylight. Hues were carefully defined by a color strategy that complements the main palette and highlights the diversity and richness of the learning environment.

The school’s administrative offices, after-school care, parents’ community space, and bicycle storage are housed on the ground floor. Gradually stepping up, the first floor houses a media space library that support’s the school’s focus on music, dance, and art as learning elements that connect cultures.

The second and third floors are where the children break for lunch, and the auditorium and gymnasium are the “crown jewels” of the school, located on the top floors of the building.

The intermingling between grade levels is central to the layout of the building’s functions. The school is designed to embrace interaction and diversity and will allow students to learn from each other, both formally and informally.

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