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Den Top

Extension of a municipal school including a sports hall

A collaboration with Osk-Ar for the municipality of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw.
Municipality of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw
Building place
Type of building
Sport and education, Government
Floor space of the building
2 698 m² + 1 658 m² + 8 514 m² outdoor area
Project sheet
Den Top @ Sint-Pieters-Leeuw
Den Top @ Sint-Pieters-Leeuw
This project was realised in two phases.

Phase 1 comprises 15 classrooms, 9 of which are for the primary school and 6 for the nursery school, as well as the necessary rooms for administration, multipurpose rooms, canteen, sanitary facilities, etc. The building consists of three volumes that surround an open outdoor playground, set back from the street and bordering on the Garebaan.

Because of the use of the existing building and the increase in the number of pupils, it was decided to launch a competition for the extension of the existing Den Top school by six classrooms and the sports hall. This is also the second phase.

The existing building was fairly recent and at first glance did not seem to have any significant physical defects.
In front of it there is a forecourt with a grandstand and 'Den Top'. Theoretically, these are elements that can add value to a playground, but practice has shown that such a stand at the bottom of a playground can be dangerous for children at play.

At the back was the large playground, with a view of the green landscape behind it that seems to run on over the playground. This gives the school an enormously valuable character that we as designers attach great importance to. 

It was possible to group the existing building into a wing for the nursery school children and two wings for the primary classes, refectory and gymnasium. A disadvantage seemed to us to be that the nursery school children could not go to the refectory without going outside. The gymnasium was also far from the nursery wing. 

In order to optimise the use of the building and to better accentuate the entrance, it was decided that the new building would be built centrally, with the forecourt completely filled in, creating a compact whole. Together with the dining area, the sports hall became the 'beating heart' of the school. The school also has a clear, covered entrance area.

The extension was thus surrounded on three sides by the existing building and no new circulation space had to be provided. After all, the existing building had clear axes of circulation that made it easy to supervise the corridors: at the intersection of two corridors, you have an overview of a large part of that floor. The new building had to preserve these lines of sight in and between the buildings.
Classrooms were provided on the first floor, adjoining the existing corridor. The roof of the sports hall became accessible as a central square and the current forecourt was raised to become a usable outdoor area for the classrooms on the first floor. In this way, the site occupation was reduced to a minimum.

The sanitary facilities were mainly extended on the ground floor (refectory - sports hall) to be able to deal with peak times during school hours. Additional sanitary facilities for pre-schoolers were provided near the refectory, as well as in the sports hall for use outside school hours and during playtime in bad weather.

The sports hall is partly sunk into the ground where pre-concrete walls were used with insulation injected between these walls and the ground retaining wall of the secant piles.

Photo credits : Matthias Vanhoutteghem