Montessori School and Willemspark School

Willem Witsenstraat 12-14
Herman Hertzberger
Tram 16 halte Emmastraat/De Lairessestraat
Guus Kemme (red.), Amsterdam Architecture - A guide, Amsterdam, 1996.

Two primary school buildings

Grouped around a communal courtyard are three schools, the so-called Apollo schools, which harmonize with their surroundings because of their villa-like appearance. The Montessori School and Willemspark School were designed by Herman Hertzberger, the third school was designed by Liesbeth van der Pol. The two schools by Hertzberger are based on an identical basic scheme: a square, in the four corners of which are classrooms grouped around a central hall.

By introducing variation in the detailing and through the positioning of the windows, the architect has given each school its own identity. The schools have been positioned so that the schoolyard is divided into a semi-public section and a more sheltered section; this latter area has been specially designed for small children. The infants have an entrance on the ground floor, beneath the exterior stairway.

The entrances for the older children are situated above, on either side of a spacious hall which also functions as an auditorium. This space is used not only for performances, but also as a place where children can work individually or in groups. The plan functions in such a way that users and visitors are led via subtle transitions from the public street to the compact enclosed space in the school. (ARCAM/OD)