Schools We Like- Apollo Montessori & Willemspark School in Amsterdam

At 35 years old, very nearly a classic, these twin schools by Herman Hertzberger are seminal projects that influenced many architects who design schools. Hertzberger made a break from the modernist tradition with a more humanist approach to architecture, carefully considering how buildings can be designed to function in response to the culture and day-to-day social activities that occur within them. For this school, this meant the transformation of the typical long, dark hallway lined with lockers into a vibrant three-story atrium that intimately connects ten classrooms in each building.

Hertzberger Apollo 01


Hertzberger Apollo Interior 09

Our JUST ONE THING this week is this central atrium that serves as the heart of each school – a small public space scaled with forum-style seating for large group gatherings. Well daylit from above, with views to the urban neighborhood outside as well as into each classroom, it’s distinguished by well-crafted intimate spaces for students to work along the edges of this cozy communal space.

Hertzberger Apollo 10

The intimacy and inviting scale helps to reinforce the sense of  a small tight-knit school community. Parents arriving on bicycles in the morning with their children hang out here before work, talking to teachers, parents, and other children. The result is an open, engaging, and connected atmosphere that invites each student to find their own place within each school.

Hertzberger Apollo Interior 06a



One response to “Schools We Like- Apollo Montessori & Willemspark School in Amsterdam

  1. Jeff, I am excited you posted this. I had a chance to tour this and other Hertzberger schools in the Netherlands as well as some Van Eyck projects. Whether one likes the style or not, these projects are true representations of great space using scale, light and material. Though not a school…one of my favorites: Van Eyck church at the Hague. Great to see another Dutch Structuralist fan!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s