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Grafisch Lyceum Utrecht   landscapem

Art & Design College Utrecht is a modestly-sized vocational college for media, design and communication. The classrooms of the building at the Vondellaan in Utrecht were in dire need of an update. A renovation formed the basis for a more creative and distinctive identity. A tender was published and Gispen won the order for the interior design and furnishing. What makes this project unique is that the preliminary design was so well-received that it was implemented without any alterations. The result is a sleek black-and-white themed interior design, combined with creative and colourful elements.

SPECIAL REQUEST: MORE SPACE AND MORE POSSIBILITIES

The building of Art & Design College at the Vondellaan in Utrecht features a high atrium that interconnects two wings. These wings - with three floors each - house all the classrooms and learning environments. The old situation presented significant limitations. Client Koen Hillen, Head of ICT & Facility Services: "Each floor had two long, narrow corridors with classrooms on either side. In between classes, these corridors were full of students, often sitting on the floor, resulting in congestion. We wanted to give our students more space; space to relax, meet up and study together. We also wanted to give them more options in terms of finding a study area that suits the activity of their own course or class."

From narrow corridor to spacious learning environment

Carola van de Bilt, interior architect at Gispen, was involved in the project from the very beginning. Art & Design College Utrecht aimed to create one central zone, with more space, light and – above all – more possibilities for teamwork. We can no longer call it a corridor; the new zone has become a proper learning environment for both relaxation and studying. There are lounges, standing tables with lockers and a wide variety of furniture elements that support teamwork. In order to make full use of everything, the classrooms around this zone have been made slightly smaller - which turned out to be perfectly feasible. The dividing wall in between the classrooms and the central zone is made of glass, introducing more daylight as well as transparency.

Lounging, meeting and interacting

Upon entering the new zone, you will first come across the lounge areas. This is where students collapse onto red Drivk Oasis sofas in various ways; the durable fabric is strong enough for them to sit on the backrest with their feet on the seat. The Pedrali Wow element can be used as a table, but also as a footstool. Large acoustic lamps above the lounge areas create an intimate atmosphere and absorb noise in this open meeting place. Furthermore, rows of locker cabinets provide space for the students to store their belongings, combined with Gispen Dukdalf standing tables for short meetings.  

The remaining space is filled with a variety of furniture setups that facilitate teamwork – users can simply choose a spot that suits their activity. From corner sofas surrounding small tables to large Gispen UT conference tables that accommodate up to eight people. You can also occupy one of the HUBB units - the innovative, sustainable furniture series that Gispen and Mecanoo designed especially for education. The 'coach seat' arrangement gives students a great many options: from fully focussing on a task to holding discussions with a small group. Visual and acoustic privacy guaranteed.

 

Back-to-basic classrooms

The classrooms – including project and computer rooms surrounding the central zone – have deliberately been kept basic. Instead, emphasis is put on the work produced by the students. All the student desks are finished in black and white. Jeroen Ideler, Gispen Account Manager: "The black Noa chairs are sturdy, comfortable, stackable and easy to clean. The white Gispen UT tables have been supplied in various sizes, equipped with several power outlets for the student iMacs and with solid core tabletops. Solid core is a tougher material than chipboard, for example. In addition, each classroom is equipped with a sit-stand desk so that the teachers too can choose how they want to work.”

 

What do you think of the result?

Jeroen Ideler: 'What struck me when I visited Art & Design College Utrecht the other day was how well-behaved the students were. I can recall that my own school days were quite different! When I pointed this out to our client, he told me that the new layout definitely contributed to this behaviour – a great compliment. Koen Hillen: "The floor that was renovated first has indeed become a more peaceful place where we see students work with dedication. When you walk through the old corridors, you definitely see more clutter and hear more noise. We plan to tend to the other floors as soon as possible. The result has turned out even better than expected.”

 

 

Photography: Chris van Koeverden

Carola van de Bilt   portraitm
Carola van de Bilt – Gispen interior architect

A word from the interior architect

“Art & Design College Utrecht considers learning to be a combination of thinking, acting and reflecting. And that no two students are the same; everybody learns in their own way. Joining in on different activities, with more space and flexibility - this assignment was right up my alley. I was very pleased with the positive reception of the preliminary design. Even better was working together with the Art & Design College team. Enthusiastic, proactive, a real joy.”

WHERE GISPEN TRULY ADDS VALUE IS IN THE QUALITY AND DIVERSITY OF THE FURNITURE THEY SUPPLY. THIS BECAME APPARENT RIGHT AWAY WHEN THE FIRST DESIGN CONCEPT WAS PRESENTED TO US. THEY ALSO EXCEL IN FULFILLING ANY COMMITMENTS THEY TAKE ON
Koen Hillen Head of ICT & Facility Services, Art & Design College Utrecht
portrait of GLU
Koen Hillen - Head of ICT & Facility Services, Art & Design College Utrecht

The client’s thoughts

“Where Gispen truly adds value is in the quality and diversity of the furniture they supply. This became apparent right away when the first design concept was presented to us. They also excel in fulfilling any commitments they take on. Everything had to be ready before the start of the academic year, which was an essential requirement for us. Gispen succeeded perfectly. We are carrying out the renovation phases and we can't wait for everything to be renewed.”

Brightlands Center Court   landscapem

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