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Koning Willem I College   landscapem

The new building of Koning Willem I College in the city of Den Bosch opened only recently, after which it was almost immediately nominated for School Building of the Year 2021. The nomination is based on the fact that it is ‘an airy and healthy building with a strong and sustainable connection with the city.' Nieuwe Architecten bna produced the remarkable design. Gispen contributed to the interior design. 


Koning Willem I College, which mainly offers technical study programmes, not only stands for future-proof and sustainable education, but also for innovative tech-education. All this is reflected in the new transparent building which boasts a clearly visible wooden structure and large glass facades. The choice for the wooden structure was a deliberate one; the 700 cubic metres of processed wood create a CO2 storage volume of 435 tonnes. This visible wooden construction was chosen to inspire students, but also because wood is sustainable. In addition, solar panels and heat pumps have been installed and there is water-retaining and insulating greenery on the roof. Alain Laaper, Construction Manager at King Willem I College, is proud of the zero-energy building for several reasons: 'We do not only educate for a profession, but also to contribute to society.’

Student-proof and circular

The circular ambition and requested warranty period by Koning Willem I College was one of the reasons why Gispen was awarded the contract through a mini-tender. Rob Stöver, account manager at Gispen: 'In the education sector, furniture has to meet high durability standards. School furniture depreciates over a period of around fifteen to twenty years, which means that everything in the classrooms has to be of very high quality and should be able to withstand heavy use. I think it's great that Koning Willem I College is not only concerned with their furniture being student-proof, but that they also think about circularity, by opting for circular conference chairs such as Gispen NOMI, for example.

Gispen has honoured the sustainability ambition of the college by extending the warranty on the supplied furniture from the usual ten to fifteen years.    

Trial setup

Gispen also fulfilled the college's wish for flexibility; all the separate pieces of furniture had to be easy to move around. To ensure that we could meet all the requirements, a trial setup with different furniture was placed at the college. The choice ultimately fell on Gispen computer tables and mobile computer chairs with wooden shells, NOMI chairs and IC tables.     

Gispen often supplies bespoke furniture in projects of this nature, but for this project this was taken one step further. Rob: 'The custom pieces have been designed by recently graduated students from their own Furniture Design programme. We think it is a very powerful statement for an educational institution to really involve its students in the development and interpretation of their learning environment. Koning Willem I College has done so in a truly special way. Graduate Anissa Jans designed wooden 'houses' in the open study areas, for example, where students and teachers can meet or work together in peace and quiet.'     

A joint effort

Sustainable education with consideration for social development does not only take place at the college. At our furniture assembly line we strive for social return on investment, where we work closely with Presikhaaf School Furniture. Rob: 'This sister company employs technical workers who are disadvantaged in the labour market. A team of Gispen and Presikhaaf workers assembled the chair frames and gas struts, tables and desks at the college itself, and then took care of the final assembly. This partnership and the flexible and understanding approach of Koning Willem I College ensured that all students, teachers and office workers could sit comfortably on the first Monday after the summer holidays.’

What do you think of the result?

Client Alain Laaper: 'You see both students and teachers making optimal use of the building, the rooms and the furniture. It was a comprehensive and intense project. It is a pleasure to work with a partner like Gispen. The lines of communication are short and they have the ability to respond very quickly and adequately to get everything done as agreed upon and within schedule. That wasn't easy, because Gispen had to deal with delivery problems and raw material shortages due to the pandemic. It was fantastic to see how they pulled out all the stops and assembled the chairs and tables on-site. On the first day of school everyone was able to sit on proper chairs at beautiful tables, in an inspiring learning environment.'       



Photography: Chris van Koeverden

Black and white portrait of Rob Stover
Rob Stöver - Gispen account manager


‘An increasing number of clients have made sustainability part of their strategic policy. There is still room for improvement within the education sector though. I like to challenge my clients in education to include circularity in their tenders. There are many ways to implement sustainability, for example by incorporating used components or textiles in new furniture, by reusing old furniture under our Revived label or through Furniture as a Service – a lease construction that ensures a very long life for furniture. Gispen likes to think along with schools to help them realise their sustainability ambitions. It's great that we were able to help Koning Willem I College reach their goals!’

Alain Laaper Construction Manager Koning Willem I College
portrait of klantfoto Koning Willem I College
Alain Laaper, Construction Manager Koning Willem I College


‘The great thing about working with Gispen is that they have a team of competent people who are at your disposal and who don't get hung up on problems but quickly search for solutions. The trial setup which was presented to us on-site is a good example of this. But above all, the joint effort between Gispen and their sister company Presikhaaf School Furniture was remarkable. Both in the workshop and at our school they worked hard to assemble all the furniture in time. It is wonderful that both organisations are not only sustainable when it comes to materials, but also in the way they work with people who are disadvantaged in the labour market. The Gispen and Presikhaaf team worked some magic to get everything finished in time.'    

Brightlands Center Court   landscapem


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