Soest (NL), 1993
This project was one of VenhoevenCS’ first. Het Kasteel is a day care and after-school care centre combined into a world for children from babies to twelve years of age; a place where children should gain all the experiences they need until they are fully developed and ready to go to secondary school at age twelve. Formerly a domestic science school, making the building suitable for its new function involved comprehensive renovations.
Firstly, the school administration was banished to the outbuilding. Next, the ground floor was completely gutted and refurbished as a street, complete with traffic lights, cars, parking meters and more. Then half of the second floor was cut away, and two labyrinths were created: a vertical one in the front building, the after-school care section, and a horizontal one in the rear building, the day care centre.
Sometimes the building appears to be infinitely complex, while at others it can seem open to the point of being downright forward. It can grow with the children in their minds over the course of twelve years. There are spaces ranging from one metre in size to ten centimetres to ten metres high. There are dirty spaces, soft walls, and beautiful, funny or incomprehensible things. It is a world for children, full of adventure, comfort, risk and excitement, and above all, a place to feel at home.