The city of Amsterdam is aiming to create sustainable, flexible, and high-quality school buildings with not just educational but also sports and childcare functions, through the Innovation Partnership School Buildings (IPS). This approach enables collaboration between contracting parties and school boards, making it possible to achieve greater quality with the same resources. Schools by Circlewood, a subsidiary of Circlewood, is one of the three selected consortia that will build between nine and thirty schools (integrated child centres). On May 11, the three selected consortia presented the results of the research and development phase of the IPS process to the city of Amsterdam, school boards, and other interested parties. Circlewood can now truly begin working on circular school construction.
Schools by Circlewood is committed to creating a sustainable and nature-inclusive learning environment that emphasizes the use of wood and bio-based materials. Circlewood sees children as the sustainability ambassadors of the future, since today's children will shape the world of tomorrow. At school, they receive the necessary tools to go out into the world, and a healthy learning environment that strengthens and enriches the earth will help them.
The integrated building concept, the HoutKern construction method, makes the building highly multifunctional and future-proof. The process leading up to the development of a Circlewood school allows for a lot of freedom in design and allows for input from the client and user, so the right look and solution can be found each time.
HoutKern construction method
The innovative HoutKern construction method was developed by the parties that now make up Circlewood and it was first applied in The Natural Pavilion at the Floriade Expo 2022. The basis of the HoutKern construction method is a stackable wooden module, that can be connected to each other by means of a smart knot. The innovation lies in the ability to detach and reassemble the modules, providing enormous savings on CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions while offering a number of other important advantages and qualities. The HoutKern construction method is also suitable for the latest design and construction techniques, enabling the highest sustainability performance.
Affordable sustainable education infrastructure
This innovation is a response to the challenges facing the construction industry today, including personnel shortages, a scarcity of building materials, rising costs, and the need to reduce CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions. We see that municipal construction ambitions and challenges are becoming increasingly larger and more complex due to urbanization, aging, and climate adaptation. Without innovations such as the HoutKern construction method, sustainable education infrastructure would be unaffordable.
Opportunities for architects
As Creative Director of Circlewood, OMA will help with the selection of young architects and landscape designers, and in collaboration with them, the schools of the IPS process will be built. In collaboration with Studio A Kwadraat, a pilot school has been developed in Amsterdam. As an integrated childcare center, the compact building is characterized by a spacious central hall for various children's activities and different types of façade openings that provide frames for the children's perception of the environment. The program, layout, and appearance of the building can be refined and adapted to the current and future needs of the school board. Karin Kuipers (project leader Circlewood): "Each school will have its own architect who really connects with the school board and the context of the school. Each school building will be unique with its own appearance."
Freedom in Design
Jimmy van der Aa (architect at Studio A Kwadraat and the first guest architect): "Actually, the method is a kind of building kit in which many technical requirements and conditions have already been solved in advance. This allows us as architects to quickly establish a clear structure of the building and we can fully focus on the end user and client. Due to the flexible fillability of the shell, we can guide them hand in hand from start to finish in the process and optimize the layout, functionality, appearance to their specific wishes. This creates a building that perfectly fits the desired educational concept and their ideal IKC." The HKB method offers a lot of flexibility and design freedom, which provides more space in translating the customer's vision into an actual building.
The Circlewood consortium consists of Oosterhoff (ABT, Adviesbureau Lüning and bbn advisors), Noordereng Groep, Heko Spanten, Lomans, DWA, Ferross Staalbouw and Hedgehog Company. OMA, led by David Gianotten and Michael den Otter, is the creative director of Schools by Circlewood. Jimmy van der Aa (Studio A Kwadraat) is the first guest architect of Schools by Circlewood, the brand of Circlewood that focuses on the development and construction of schools. In 2022, Circlewood received the Cobouw Innovation Award for the HoutKern Building Method. In 2023, Circlewood has been nominated for the engineering award, De Vernufteling.
Circlewood is pleased with the trust of the Municipality of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam schools and is eager to get to work for other sustainable schools and childcare centers in the country. The Municipality of Amsterdam's contract is currently being expanded to the entire Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam (MRA).