With the Neel primary school, the district of Maasniel in Roermond, the Netherlands, has gained a remarkable structure. A rare, contemporary take on architecture with a strong focus on air quality breaks the monotony of school buildings and makes this school annexe, delivered in 2015, a true masterpiece.
The Neel primary school - Maasniel
Key role for Duco in indoor climate of architecturally impressive primary school
School buildings don't always appeal to the imagination. They're all much the same, but sometimes one stands out that has the power to surprise you or, in this case: that you can't take your eyes off. With the Neel primary school, the district of Maasniel in Roermond, the Netherlands, has gained a remarkable structure. A rare, contemporary take on architecture with a strong focus on air quality breaks the monotony of school buildings and makes this school annexe, delivered in 2015, a true masterpiece. You can read Architectenbureau Coppen's story here.
Top-class architecture isn't just at home in major cities. Now that architects and builders are giving their creativity more free rein than ever, striking, progressive structures are rising up from the ground in smaller residential areas. Containing classrooms, a library, study areas and more, this volume, built onto an existing monumental school building in Maasniel, demonstrates boldness and originality. It's a mouth-watering piece of architecture, but with a clear nod to nature.
Nature as the guiding theme
In the words of architect Hans Coppen: "There are thousands of school buildings in the Netherlands; the quality of the air in most of them is poor. Because a fresh and healthy indoor climate should be the natural right of every child and teacher, nature became the guiding theme throughout the work. A rigorous choice was made in favour of natural ventilation so that all rooms always have a continuous supply of fresh air from outside. This results in an optimal and inspiring learning environment in which everyone can perform to the best of his or her ability every moment of the day".
Duco, specialized in natural ventilation and solar shading systems, was awarded the difficult assignment of realising a healthy, comfortable and energy-efficient environment. "The design of the façade definitely didn't make this challenge any easier," explains Hans Coppen. "The entire façade is covered in stylised trees, with the tree-like structure overlapping parts of the straight windows. Of course that meant specific requirements for the ventilation and solar shading. But thanks to the experience accumulated by Duco over many years, the company was able to get on board with our thinking at an early stage of the project."
Window ventilators with integrated solar shading
In consultation with the architects, Duco got to work with the DucoTwin 120 'ZR' and the TronicTwin 120 5 Pa, two window ventilators with integrated solar shading, to keep the indoor climate in the primary school controllable. "Thanks to the use of these two window ventilators, there was more than just a natural supply of fresh air," says the architect. "Both ventilators also guarantee the optimum balance of sufficient daylight, preserving the outside view and affording efficient protection from the sun's rays. In addition, they ensure adequate ventilation even when the solar shading system was closed. Ease of installation and maintenance from inside are two major added benefits."
To prevent the risk of pupils losing their concentration due to an increase in the CO2 level and to substantially improve the kids' learning performance, the rooms need a constant supply of fresh air from outside. "That requires a ventilation flow of around 1,000 m3 per room per hour," Hans Coppen tells us. "Duco therefore designed the TronicTwin 120 for a pressure difference of 5 Pa specifically for this project. That makes the entire ventilation system more robust, more stable and less dependent on weather conditions. What's more, 5 Pa window ventilators offer the advantage that the length can be significantly reduced. Because of the high air speed, smaller window ventilators were desirable, which also allowed them to be better integrated into the façade."
Coppen continues: "In many cases, energy quality also leaves something to be desired in a lot of schools. Because the environment is the central focus of this project, we wanted it to be energy-efficient. With electronic controls based on CO2 readings, the Tronic ventilators open and close automatically according to requirements. As a result, no more ventilation is provided than is needed, and that leads to a substantial saving in energy".
Satisfaction looking back
Now that the project is completed, architectural firm and client have achieved a result to be justly proud of. "The new annexe has exceeded all expectations, not just because of the sustainable design focusing on an optimal indoor climate. The out-of-the-ordinary look and the versatility offered by this building, in combination with the open and efficient working relationships among all parties involved, all contributed: the project received a highly enthusiastic welcome in the market. And what gives an architectural firm more satisfaction than a satisfied client?" Hans Coppen concludes on a happy note.