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Leonardo College   landscapem

Leonardo College in Leiden had waited fourteen years for their new building. Not only the building but also the furniture was to be brand new, provided that everything was sustainable and cradle-to-cradle certified. Ector Hoogstad Architects designed the building, Studio Moj applied the same design concept to the interior and Gispen furnished the offices, the auditorium, the cafeteria, the classrooms, the study area and teachers' lounge. 'The 'wow' effect on the first day of school was huge.'


Leonardo College is a public school situated in Leiden and its surrounding area for all levels of secondary education. It is also an official Topsport Talentschool. The facilities of the sports and dance programme are part of the outdoor area, which can also be used by the local community. The college houses 900 students and 85 teachers and is characterised by physical activity; and that is not only because of the sports and dance facilities. The school's motto states: Those who move have more energy, are in a better mood and perform better. This activity is reflected in the interior and the furniture. By using modular elements, the college can easily adapt the setup, function and layout of the interior. Gispen and Studio Moj have created a future-proof interior that can easily adapt to new learning styles and work methods.


The new building is completely gas-free and energy-neutral. During construction, sustainable materials were used wherever possible. A good example of this is the wooden façade with a steel structure; materials that are easy to recycle. In addition, Leonardo College commissioned Ector Hoogstad Architects to create a school that is flexible in use. The architect designed the new building in such a way that the college can easily make adjustments in the future, by simply moving walls without any major construction work, for example.


A collaboration between Studio Moj and Gispen also brought flexibility to the interiors of the auditorium, student areas, lecture halls, teachers' lounge and terrace. Ewout Torreman, account manager at Gispen: 'We mainly used modular furniture for this project, keeping circularity and sustainability in mind. The various components can easily be adapted and rearranged; either in form, size or function.'



The various learning needs of the students was the main starting point for the interior design. What do they need to complete their training in the best possible way? Ewout: 'The learning pattern is divided into four activities: instruction, processing, skills and in-depth learning. The instruction is the same for every student, and can be provided to all students simultaneously. We equipped the various study areas and classrooms with 800 student desk sets and 30 teacher's desks from sister company Presikhaaf.'



Processing instructions and honing skills is done in small groups of students on the various floors. Ewout: 'This independent and project-based learning occurs in the open spaces around the classrooms and the media library. This is where the concept of 'building blocks' is applied, with dividers in the form of Gispen CIMO planters and acoustic screens. A diverse selection of furniture supports group work: high round Gispen TEAM tables and Picnic tables for informal discussions and more private group work: Gispen JUNA coach seats and wall benches by Havee and Gispen TEAM tables with optional dividing screens. This mix of workstations supports every learning requirement.'



Gispen not only supplied the educational furniture, it also furnished the auditorium, the teachers' lounge and the terrace;  keeping true to the design of Studio Moj. Ewout: 'The guiding principle for each space was flexibility. Providing education, developing teaching programmes and supporting these programmes is and will continue to be a priority for Leonardo College. Gispen supports this approach with modular furniture that can be adapted to new needs at any time. Sustainability really has multiple facets in this project. It is great that we were able to contribute to this with our creativity and products. And it's wonderful that Leonardo College appreciates the price-quality ratio. Sustainable quality does not have to be expensive.



Client Evelien Ruiter: 'The final 15% of the project caused some headaches. Murphy's law seemed to apply to this final stage. Fortunately, however, we were able to welcome all our students, teachers and support staff at the start of the new school year. Gispen has shown that it responds well to unexpected situations. By supplying temporary furniture, for example.

The result was surprising to everyone. All the furniture, upholstery and colours suited our new building so well. The 'wow' effect on the first day of school was huge.'


Photography: Claartje ten Have, Studio Moj

portrait of Claartje zakelijk
Claartje ten Have - Studio Moj


'Leonardo College is truly dedicated to the needs of its students. The flexible learning environment is a testament to that. Gispen's large product range has certainly contributed to achieving such a sustainable and multi-purpose interior. I designed a blend of so-called 'building blocks'. By turning these blocks, you can create more or less privacy, work individually or in groups. Upholstered products and dividing elements provide acoustic dampening. The modular building blocks can be adapted in the future; dividing the long reading table into smaller group tables, for example. In other words, the furniture can accommodate different dynamics, learning styles and working methods of both the present and the future.’

Evelien Ruiter Facility staff member at Leonardo College
Leonardo College   landscapem
Evelien Ruiter - Facility staff member at Leonardo College

The client’s thoughts

'Gispen was awarded the contract as the result of a tender process. We were pleasantly surprised by the attractive price-quality ratio they presented to us. We explicitly asked Gispen to apply all their expertise to the design, choice of colour and selection of materials. We quickly noticed that Gispen and Studio Moj have a lot of experience with school buildings. This resulted in well-designed spaces with furniture that is well-suited and intended for that space. It had to be possible to easily and quickly convert the auditorium for a party, graduation ceremony or detention room, for example. The result is beautiful and pleasant.'

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