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Circular ambitions for elementary schools by Studio A Kwadraat + OMA and Schools by Circlewood

Hedgehog Company is part of the Schools by Circlewood consortium, and together with Jimmy van der Aa (Studio A Kwadraat), David Gianotten and Michael den Otter (OMA), we won the competition to design the Wisperweide school in Weesp! This will be a circular, biobased elementary school.

Great news! Hedgehog Company is part of the Schools by Circlewood consortium, and together with Jimmy van der Aa (Studio A Kwadraat), David Gianotten and Michael den Otter (OMA), we won the competition to design the Wisperweide school in Weesp!

Credits article: OMA


Impression how the circular biobased school will look.
Image: Studio A Kwadraat
The Wisperweide School design competition jury: “The design has a ‘wow’ factor and is unique, fullymatching the school’s identity as intended. It is modern with a natural look.”

Circular ambitions for elementary schools

Wisperweide, which offers pre- and after school care, is the first school applying Schools by Circlewood’s prefabricated wooden modular system – which has been adopted by the City of Amsterdam earlier this year as one of the bases to build multiple elementary schools, fulfilling the program’s exceptionally high sustainability ambitions. 

In line with the Paris Agreement, biobased, and demountable, the school exemplifies the circular ambitions of the Municipality of Amsterdam. Fully prefabricated, the school has a high percentage of biobased materials, in additional to a sustainable installation method to help further reduce CO2 and nitrogen emissions.

Impression of the modular character of timber construction
© Arthur Wong, courtesy of OMA

The HoutKern construction method

Schools by Circlewood’s plug and play system (the HoutKern Construction Method) consists of  standardized wooden columns, cross-laminated wooden floor panels, smart steel joints, and movable partitions. Wisperweide’s design uses the system to achieve maximum flexibility – both daily and in the long term. Central to the compact building is an auditorium, which is the school’s main gathering and event space visible to most parts of the school.

The modular partitions allow the classrooms and corridors to be configured differently according to the preferences of the children and teachers to foster creativity and working together. As the school develops over time, more classrooms can be added to the north by removing the existing northern façade and expanding the modular structural framework.

Karin Kuipers, Schools by Circlewood: “Our modular system, the HoutKern Construction Method, was initially developed for The Natural Pavilion at the Floriade World Expo 2022. With the system, it is easy to transform a structure for new functions, or to disassemble it at the end of its life cycle. We are proud that we can now apply our system to create a pleasant learning environment for children – the sustainability ambassadors of our future.”

Outdoor learning as educational vision

Encouraging outdoor learning is one of Wisperweide's core educational visions. The school’s two playgrounds – divided by the shared bicycle parking facility and each tailored to a specific age group – offer ample green space for activities. Colored rubber cast floors in different shapes, together with the play equipment, form vibrant playscapes.

Around the auditorium are learning spaces that are divided into two distinctive zones – for toddlers and older children. Each zone has its own entrance and outdoor playground, in addition to classrooms with largely transparent facades and walls. The spacious corridors – over 3 meters wide and filled with natural light – become extra learning and working spaces.

Impression of the interior of the school
© Studio A Kwadraat

Members of the consortium

Schools by Circlewood consists of Noordereng Groep, Oosterhoff (ABT, Adviesbureau Lüning, bbn adviseurs), Studio A Kwadraat, DWA, Hedgehog Company, Heko Spanten, EtuConsult, Lomans, Ferross Staalbouw, and OMA. As Schools by Circlewood’s Creative Director, OMA helps to select young designers, and develop in collaboration with them new schools. Studio A Kwadraat is the first selected school designer. The Wisperweide school will be constructed by Friso Bouwgroep.

In additional to Schools by Circlewood, De Elementaire School and Het Schoolvoorbeeld have been selected for the Innovation Partnership School Buildings program. The three consortia will together build between nine and thirty schools in Amsterdam in the coming ten years.

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