Molen Street Gate

renovation and expansion of two schools

De Molen primary school

The historical images of the impressive school complex on Onderwijzersstraat evoke different emotions: nostalgia, respect, admiration, but also some aversion. The pupils of that time must have felt very small. The elongated schools grandeur is awe-inspiring yet equally intimidating.

Todays perception of education and the associated spaces is much different than 100 years ago. A contemporary school must be an inspiring learning and living environment that presents itself to its surroundings with an open face, not a walled fortress. Yet in our opinion the strict school has timeless, spatial and architectural qualities that make it suitable for a meaningful transformation. Even without extensive changes, De Molen can become a school that does justice to its past and at the same time complies much better than before with current educational views. The large playgrounds and gardens play an important role in this.

In our proposal, the generous, clear and symmetrical layout serves as the starting point for a contemporary school that accommodates different forms of education.

location:Hoboken, Antwerp
status:competition, 1st price
illustrations:Rotraut Susanne Berner
Molen Inplantinsplan
Molen Postcard

Onderwijzersstraat in the '50s.

Molen Diagram Old New

old and new: red - existing Molenschool, blue - the new additions and covered outdoor spaces

Our plan makes a clear distinction between kindergarten and primary school. The primary school is located in the existing Molenschool, which has been completely renovated. Extra rooms such as the dining hall are included in a large, T-shaped extension encolsing the existing school courts. The nursery school is housed as an independent entity, in an equally T-shaped extension, on the east side of the main building.

Molen Axo
Molen Street Entrance
Molen Street Corner
Molen Courtyard Entrance
Molen Courtyard Sport
Molen Street Gym

We will start with the careful restoration and partial reconstruction of the typological existing Molenschool, with an emphasis on restoring the sequence of outdoor spaces. The original, distinctive roof shape of the northern caretaker's house and continuous school wall will be restored, this stretching the most part of Onderwijzersstraat.

Molen Groundfloor
Molen Line Classroom
Molen Line Refter

The largest expansion is the addition of a dining hall that connects the former boys 'and girls' school as a large and light pavilion located between two courts. The dining hall is oriented with two equivalent garden aspects with wide awnings on both courts. Due to the transparency of the façades and large threshold, the new wings create for a light fence to the playgrounds and thus determine the new open character of the indoor and outdoor areas. The language of the new elements is complementary to the existing monumental brick architecture; Instead of creating bounded spaces, inside and out seem to merge into one another.

The former rear of the classroom building will be completely transformed. A façade at about 2m distance from the existing façade affords the original hallway as a versatile learning and living area, redesigned into a series of intimate learning places. Through the new openings, the learning niches are in open connection with the classes and yet can also be easily closed when necessary. The rooms are an important addition to the restored classrooms, transforming the whole into a contemporary learning environment.

Molen Line Corridor
Molen Line Learningstreet
Molen Section
Molen Street Entrance Kindergarden
Molen Courtyard Kindergarden
Molen Courtyard Pergola

The new kindergarten is conceived as a stand-alone volume and connected to the main building by a single-storey dining hall. The new addition is light and open, yet its character differs from the primary school. The emphasis in the new building is on domesticity and experience from a low perspective, tuned to 'habitation' by very young children.

Two classes each form a unit. All units are located on a multifunctional, wide corridor and living area that can be used as a dining area, informal work and play area. On the first floor, two large dormer windows provide light, views and intimate nooks. On the ground floor, the 'learning street' is in open dialogue with the playground.

Molen Model Kinder
Molen Line Refter Kinder
Molen Line Class Dormer
Molen Line Corridor Dormer
Molen Line Gym
Molen Street Entrance Long