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Training centre, Helmond

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Educational Centre Prepares for Education Reform
The education centre on the Keizerin Marialaan offers an attractive future for vocational education in Helmond. The open structure of the building makes it possible to provide the desired modern education and collaborative endeavours. The spatial structure not only joins areas for theoretical and practical training, it also creates a space for their interaction. The central boulevard on the first floor connects all the building’s rooms and, together with the outside squares, forms a meeting place for pupils, students and teachers as well as for the city. The education centre houses both the senior classes of the Vakcollege dr. Knippenberg (vocational college Dr. Knippenberg, lower secondary professional education) and the departments of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, ICT, Economics, Structural Engineering and Adult Education programs of the ROC (regional training centre) ter AA (intermediate vocational education).

Part of the technical education program is situated in the Innovative Practice Centre (IPC). This special and integral component of the program serves as a recruiting bridge between education and the business world. Together, both the ROC and businesses can provide training as well as organise activities such as corporate presentations and conferences.

Spatial Design

Urban Rhythm
The components of the education centre derive their strength from the composition of the entire building. On the one hand, the rhythm of more or less identical masses from both the east and the west, and on the other the internal spatial interweaving, all come together to make the building specific, powerful and special. As the centre is situated across from the North Castle (Kasteel-Noord) we opted to make this building on the Keizerin Marialaan a more contemporary counterbalance.

The elongated workplaces of yesteryear were replaced with a compact stacking of simulation workshops, so that the interaction between the various components is more simple. Long hallways are no longer needed. The space gained benefits the meeting places. The school buildings of the past, with their many standard classrooms, have been transformed into three study areas with three to four layers. Their dimensions have been tailored to cater to various forms of flexible education. These study areas, together with the outdoor squares on the Keizerin Marialaan, form the building blocks of the new structure. Telescoping (like a matchbox) these elements creates a challenging coherence and an interchange between the theory, practice, and meeting spaces.

In terms of urban planning, the education centre forms a 'permeable' border of built-up Helmond. A walking and cycling trail passes under the boulevard, hereby joining Helmondselaan with the Keizerin Marialaan. Along this route one finds the study-restaurant of the vocational college Dr. Knippenberg. The squares on the Keizerin Marialaan differ in character. The square at the intersection of Keizerin Marialaan and Oostende is the most public. Here you will find the student restaurant. The square between the wings of the vocational college Dr. Knippenberg is intended as an outdoor space for students and has more the character of a courtyard. The recreation and dining hall, as well as the main hall, are prominently connected to and by this courtyard.

Boulevard and Squares
All the rooms on first floor are interconnected. The ‘boulevard’ on this floor leads along open learning centres, practice rooms and meeting places. The heart of the ROC ter AA is the two-storey covered square on the boulevard, the market square with meeting and accommodation facilities. Adjacent to and surrounding this square are reception areas, classrooms, a small restaurant, student facilities, a lecture hall and a section of the Innovative Practice Centre. The vocational college Dr. Knippenberg also has its hub on this boulevard. The open high hall, which connects the outdoor spaces with each other, houses the main reception, media centre, classrooms and recreational places. From this hall is a view of the outdoor stage in the courtyard, where the main recreational area is located.

Mix of Classrooms
The workshops have been designed as high, compact halls. Partitions (partly of glass) have been added where needed for acoustic reasons or to contain dust particles or other technical purposes. The architectural structure is flexible in design and leaves room for (unknown) future developments. The study houses are open in structure. The basic dimensions, the construction of the study houses, and the placement of the stairs, have all been chosen so that it is possible to have both open learning areas, with a mix of smaller and larger premises and tutor areas, in addition to the more traditional classroom setting.

Project information

Project team