Safety and small scale in a large school building

How do we keep our new school building small and safe for no less than 2,300 students? And what does the ideal school look like? To answer these questions, Rodenborch College, with HEVO as project manager, invested a lot of time and attention in the preparation and design of the new building in Rosmalen. Subsequently, by closely managing the implementation during the construction itself, a light and spacious building was created that was delivered within budget and schedule. Rector Marjo van IJzendoorn and operations manager Roland Littooij from Rodenborch-College therefore look back with great satisfaction on a process which, according to them, stood out above all because of the good cooperation.

Rodenborch College. The Rodenborch college is a merger of the college of the same name and the Jeroen Bosch college, which has been closed. After the 2022 summer holidays, Rodenborch High School moved into a new building in an expansion area in Rosmalen. The college offers education in vmbo-t (the t stands for theoretical learning path), havo and vwo to 2,300 students. 210 people work in the building, of which around 170 are teachers.

Rodenborch-College is part of the large school umbrella organization Vereniging Ons Middelbaar Onderwijs in the province of Nordbrabant. It is also a Topsport Talent School, a tto school (bilingual education) and Technasium. In addition to the school, the new building also contains two sports halls, which are rented out to ‘s-Hertogenbosch municipality outside school hours. Six classes can train simultaneously in the two halls.

cause

‘s-Hertogenbosch municipality had a wide range of youth education. With many schools you get dilution. The Jeroen Bosch College was particularly affected. The number of pupils had fallen to 500 and the school was in permanent financial difficulties. Add to that the fact that the old school building was creaking and creaking at every seam, and it was clear that, rationally speaking, closure was the best choice. As hard as it is. Because closing a school is always accompanied by intense emotions and a lot of sadness. The amalgamation of the Rodenborch College and the Jeroen Bosch College into one new building created the prospect of a bright new future.’

Future vision

‘When the decision to build a new building was made in autumn 2019, we started working with the teachers of both schools on the educational concept for the new college. It was a very nice process. We asked the teachers to draw a picture of our education for the future. How would you like your child or grandchild to be educated here? Everyone has responded to that. At the same time, we offered a training program that fed the teachers with new scientific insight into the ‘Learning to learn’ method. It turned out that our teachers had the same future vision as us. An image that also fit well with current ideas about how students learn. It all came together in our educational concept. We needed that concept for the design of the new building.’

Tailored training

“The common thread in our concept is that the students receive more adapted teaching, in line with the pace at which they can follow courses. In other words, more modular and level-oriented, with more room for personal development and transversal projects. We also wanted to offer options to postpone elections. One year at secondary school is not enough for many students to already know how they want to continue. Therefore, in addition to bridge classes of one year, we also have extended bridge classes of two years, as well as roof tile classes for vmbo-t-havo and havo-vwo. Because we are such a large school, we can offer the great variety.’

The common thread in our concept is that students receive more customized teaching that suits the pace at which they can follow courses.

Marjo van IJzendoorn

Translation in the building

“The variation is also reflected in the rooms in the building. Roughly speaking, 70% of the teaching time consists of core lessons; it is classic classroom teaching. The rest is intended for project training or other forms of personal development. To this end, the building offers all kinds of rooms where students can continue to work independently or in small groups. It happens in the workplace. So there is a lot of variation between large and small spaces and between the small spaces themselves, which means that you can actually offer a lot more customization.’

Safe and small scale

‘The biggest challenge for the architect was to give this large building a sufficiently small scale and security. It had to radiate warmth so that everyone could quickly feel at home. It worked out well. The workplaces are deliberately kept somewhat smaller. The building is divided into the lower and upper classes, each with six learning domains. It provides a sense of security, just like the small cabins that the students like to use. And the building is very bright and spacious, with great attention to the indoor climate. In the corona era, everyone was in the old buildings with open windows, nickel-plated in the cold. Here, the modern ventilation ensures a pleasant climate. And that’s what it’s all about; you want your teachers and students to be able to work and learn in a comfortable environment.’

Sustainable operation

“We have taken a closer look at the future operating costs for the new building and have therefore chosen solid, sustainable materials that do not need to be replaced quickly. The building is almost energy neutral, thanks to good insulation, triple glazing, LED lighting, heat pumps and solar panels. We have a green moss roof that is the first to catch the rain. This then goes to the wadi. As soon as it is saturated, the rainwater enters the large pond. We have also laid open paving on the plot. That’s why rainwater doesn’t go into the sewer.’

Tight process

“Employees, parents and students were closely involved in the phase of drawing up the requirements program and in the selection of the architect. So again with the interior design of the building. For example, we let the students choose from three chairs and the teachers from eight versions of IWBs. We managed the whole process involving everyone closely. This way we stayed within budget and schedule. But we also wanted a building that would meet the needs of the users. Both goals have been successful.’

Calm and confidence

‘Our school association Ons Middelbaar Onderwijs (OMO) has extensive experience in building. Therefore, we could act as the developer ourselves, but with the use of extra expertise from within the school. HEVO has been engaged in project management and we are very satisfied with that. Not only because of the great expertise of the people at HEVO, but certainly also because of the peace and trust they always exuded. It was important; at times this process was very exciting.’

The auditorium, the media library and the water surrounding the building: the students at Rodenborch-College are impressed by their new school building.

Marjo van IJzendoorn

Shortages and delays

“The range of contractors was of course exciting. We also suffered during the corona era and the increasing lack of materials and later personnel. The shell construction phase actually went smoothly, partly because the contractor had procured materials in a timely and smart manner, and the purchase of the piles was organized by HEVO, with OMO acting as the client. The final phase was more exciting. Then many more parties and suppliers will be involved. Parts of the ceilings had to come from eastern Germany, the heat pumps from Italy. It all took a long time. In the end we stayed within the schedule, but you have to have sufficient understanding of each other. However, the cooperation in this project has always been excellent. Everyone did their thing and took responsibility for it; in our opinion the most important key to success.’

Pride

‘After completion we saw colleagues walking through the building with their parents or partners. They were eager to show them. A sign that they are proud of it. The students are also happy about it. They thought it was big at first, but you quickly got used to it. It is very nice that we are now all in one building and have new facilities. The outdoor area is almost ready. A lot of attention has also been paid to this together with the students. Trees and bushes have yet to be planted, but it is nice to see that the students are already enjoying sitting on the benches and by the water. Especially when the weather is good, it’s also wonderful to be here outside.’

Answer HEVO

A number of special conditions came together in the new construction of Rodenborch High School. From the start, we have thought about how the future students will experience the new, large school building together with the school. The necessary attention has also been directed to the merger of two schools with their own students and staff; various themes and focus areas were discussed on the basis of various working meetings with the users.

The two main project frameworks were budget and schedule. From the start, HEVO focused strongly on a feasible design and on speed in the process. Care is of course not lost sight of, but by working energetically with the planners and later also the builders and removing risks from the most critical elements, we succeeded in bringing the 17,300 m² of new construction inside to provide the framework. The quality is high, and the choices made have always been aimed at sustainable exploitation. There are good acoustics, insulation and high-quality finish, but electronic cylinders have also been chosen on the doors, e.g. Along with the construction, the maintenance of important parts is also outsourced: This means that the school can enjoy a well-functioning building for many years to come.

Do you know more? So please contact:

Winifred van den Bosch
+31 (0)6 12 11 67 28
winifred.bosch@hevo.nl

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