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Kindercampus to relocate to Ravel residential district

From behind the wide windows on the first floor of the Kindercampus Zuidas you can clearly see a pile-driver inserting a tubular pile into the ground. ‘The two group 5s that have classrooms on this side of the school can watch the entire construction process of the new building live as it happens’, points out Jet Hilberdink. She has been the Kindercampus director for three years, but her involvement in the school dates back much further. Before that, she spent years teaching group 8 and was also a teaching supervisor. We talked to her for the first time three years ago, just as she was taking over the reins from her predecessor as director. It was then that talks started with architects’ firm RAU about the design of the new building. ‘I’m delighted I was involved in that process. We were able to think about the finer details of the new building together. For us, it was important that it reflects our vision – and I think we’ve successfully achieved that.’

The Kindercampus Zuidas is a primary school and childcare centre (that will soon also offer after-school facilities) in the middle of the new low-traffic residential district Ravel. In the years ahead, we are building 1,350 homes here, mainly for families. Of these homes, 40% will be social rental, another 40% midmarket rental and 20% owner-occupied properties. The neighbourhood is being developed in the area between the AFC football pitches and De Boelelaan. 

Curiosity inside and out

Kindercampus Zuidas is a school that focuses on developmental education. ‘It’s all about children’s curiosity. They can only learn if they’re engaged. Not only in the classroom, but also outside it’, explains Hilberdink. So, how do you reflect that kind of vision in a design? ‘To some extent, it’s an experimentation process for us too’, says Hilberdink. ‘Throughout it, we’ve visited lots of schools in Amsterdam together to see what appealed to us and what didn’t. Sometimes, it’s about the finer details. In developmental education, children regularly work in groups. That requires space, which you often find in the corridor. This is why we’ve opted to have corridors that are as spacious and quiet as possible, by hanging the coat racks for the children inside the classrooms themselves. Each individual classroom will also have its own toilet facilities, preventing the corridors from becoming too busy and hectic.’

Director Jet Hilberdink: ‘The tribune staircase will also feature in the new building’

Tribune staircase and natural playground

Hilberdink and her colleagues were also very eager to include some of the features of the current building in the new one. They include the tribune staircase. ‘This is a wide and inviting staircase in the hall that we use for music and dance lessons, but also for the group 8 musical. It really is the heart of the school.’ It was equally important to keep the popular natural playground next to the school, which had to make way for the new building last year. It now has a worthy successor, where every group has its own vegetable patch.

Bursting at the seams

As we walk through the existing building, it becomes clear that the school is already beginning to burst at the seams. The open spaces – which were also a key feature of the existing design – have been very much filled up. ‘We also had to close off part of that space in the corridor to create new classrooms’, explains Hilberdink. Kindercampus Zuidas currently has around 375 students, but that will increase to 550/600 when the new building is completed. Hilberdink: ‘We’ve been in this building for ten years now. It’s wonderful – just look at that woodwork, all the natural daylight, the tall ceilings. But it was designed and built to last around ten years. And we’re starting to notice that now. That’s why we’re really looking forward to moving.’

An impression of the new Kindercampus Zuidas

Circular system

The jewel in the crown of the new building is a so-called green workshop, says Hilberdink. This is a room on top of the roof that provides access to a green, educational roof terrace with another vegetable patch. ‘There will also be various places to sit and hold classes on that terrace. The building is almost energy-neutral and we just love the fact that the children will soon be able to see the circular system at close hand. We’ll have a roof that collects rainwater after a heavy downpour and gradually drains it away. This happens via pipes leading to De Boelegracht and it’s been designed in such a way to enable the toddlers to watch as it drains away from their own natural garden.’

Kindercampus Zuidas
The new Kindercampus Zuidas building has been designed by RAU architects and was commissioned by OOadA. HEVO is responsible for construction management and the landscape architect is MAAK space. Construction starts in April 2024 and is expected to be completed in the autumn of 2025.

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