The Marius Renard school fulfils an important social function within the Bizet neighbourhood in Anderlecht but struggles to radiate its dynamics to the surroundings even though the site is a relatively green oasis in a grey urban area. Inverting the front (and face) of the school, the main question of this project, encourages its relationship and interaction with the neighbourhood.
The architectural gesture nestles itself at the intersection of several landscape rooms and takes a mediating role in the organisation of public and semi-private outdoor space. The level difference on the site is used to create a double ground level, one at street level and one at playground level.
In the base of the building, a multi-purpose room with all support functions (kitchen, sanitary facilities and storage rooms) will be positioned. A spacious, greened passageway provides a perspective and access to the higher playground behind. This connection together with the positioning of the multi-purpose room at street level activates the street and ensures that the school activity overflows into the neighbourhood and vice versa; the neighbourhood and the school become intertwined, both visually and physically. Through a clever play with topography, the roof of the multifunctional space can be made accessible. Thus, the surface area taken up is returned twice: the multi-purpose space as such plus an urban balcony that seamlessly connects to the school playground. On this sloping roofscape, children are safe, without being trapped behind a man-sized fence.
On top of the base, the remaining functions are compactly stacked in an efficient volume against the end façade of the existing school building. This simple intervention finishes off the existing blind façade and gives a new and recognisable face to the new entrance to the school. In the same gesture the existing classrooms are made fully accessible by a double use of the elevator.
Design Architect: Fallow + Studio Lauka
Execution Architect: Studio Ensemble
Landscape: Fallow + Studio Lauka
Team: Mira De Winne, Aaron Michels, Matthias Salaets, Michaël Stas, Carmen Van Maercke, Alexandru Moldovan