Forum ‘t Zand

Utrecht (NL), 2005



Forum ‘t Zand is one of the buildings in Groot Zandveld in Leidsche Rijn. It is a community school of which half is taken up by a sports hall, day nurseries, after school childcare and primary schools, while the other half is primarily designed for leisure functions. The auditorium and hortus or meeting room could also be used for performances and other cultural activities.

The building is adjacent to an archaeological park with Roman ruins and is surrounded by fruit trees, old glasshouses and romantic remains of a recent gardening past. In order to leave the valuable grounds and the surrounding nature as untouched as possible, we chose a compact design which provides for multiple uses of land and rooms.

The design is shaped like a rocket, tying in to the popularity of the visual culture from films, games and TV dramas. This also makes it a very popular school for children. Playgrounds are situated on the roof, creating a public park on the ground floor. At the heart of the building lies a big hortus, with a cockpit room at the top for the after school childcare facility. Hanging halfway down into the garden is an auditorium offering a view of the adjacent sports hall. The separating walls on the ground floor can slide back to create a large room with a kitchen, which is exceptionally well suited for neighbourhood parties and lunchtime and after school childcare. There is also a bar and/or children’s cafeteria that can be used by anyone. Surrounded by the remnants of earlier civilisations, this science fiction design is becoming an appealing cultural centre for the neighbourhood.

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Name: Forum ‘t Zand
Location: Pauwoogvlinder 12-24, Utrecht (NL)
Program: Public school (16 classes), Montessori school (10 classes), 2 day nurseries and after school childcare, leisure centre, sports hall, hortus
Surface area: 7,100 m2 gfa
Assignment: Competition design, Schematic design, Design development, Construction documents, Procurement, Construction administration
Period: 2001-2005
Status: Built
Client: Municipality of Utrecht – Social Development Department
Awards: Winner Rietveld Award 2007 Winner School Construction Award 2006


VenhoevenCS: Ton Venhoeven, Erwin Hilbrands, Peterine Arts, Erik de Vries, Cécilia Gross, Kees Plomp, Xander Bernaards (intern)
Landscape architect:OKRA
Structural engineer:Aronsohn
Building physics:LBP
Images: Luuk Kramer, Rob Hoekstra