School for the Disabled Brasschaat
We started the design for the primary school-extension not from a big architectural gesture, but from the smallest, most elementary school-entity: the classroom. Considering the specific needs of its inhabitants, this room has to excel in tailor-made adaptability. We attempted a kind of method acting to derive the essentials: what is the best way to approach the world when seated in a wheelchair? What are your hopes and wishes? What disturbs you? What challenges you or entices you to become (more) self-reliant? And as teacher-mentor; how can I best cater to these children?
We answer these questions by introducing softness, sufficient gradiënts and freedom of movement.
The new classrooms are linked “en fillade”, creating a sequence from the existing secondary school wing, through the primary school levels all the way to the toddlers. As the children aren’t sorted according to age, but according to mental capacity, so are the classrooms carefully positioned according to their exposure to the outside world, supporting an increasing complexity as each child, at their own pace, grows to become more self-sufficient.
“My advice to other disabled people would be: concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”
(Stephen Hawking, 2011)