Houtkamp College is a new school of secondary education in Doetinchem, which opened its doors in the academic year 2020-2021. Houtkamp College moved into a building which was previously used by another college. Building upon what was already there, the interior design and furnishing have been altered to be in line with the innovative educational concept of Houtkamp College. ARX and Gispen joined in on the project. The biggest challenge they faced was a tight deadline.
Four learning areas with versatile and diverse furniture
The educational concept of Houtkamp College is characterised by four learning areas, in which a number of subjects are combined and where teachers and students collaborate in an integrated way. The learning areas are called 'Exact', 'Communication', 'World' and 'Art and Culture and Media’, respectively. Jeroen Sanders, Quartermaster of Houtkamp College: 'Through this concept, our students acquire new knowledge much more coherently.’ The physical environment, however, also had to accommodate this concept. Jeroen: ‘One of the prerequisites was that it had to be apparent right away in which learning area you are standing, and within that area it should be easy to make different setups for different work methods. This demanded versatile and diverse furniture.’
The client’s thoughts
‘Gispen came out on top after a mini competition between three suppliers. A tough criterion which they had to meet was the short lead time; it took quite a long time for us to be given permission to move into the building. This meant that both the interior designer and furnisher had to be able to operate and deliver under time pressure. Gispen was able to guarantee a timely delivery – even though it was quite a sizeable project – and offer good value for money. I am particularly impressed with their services and the fact that they manufacture locally is a big plus.’
Colourful learning environments full of activity
The interior design is inspired by the old Houtkamp Hal in Doetinchem, an indoor market which was always full of activity. Interior designer Vivian Bruntink from ARX: ‘The learning areas of Houtkamp College are very similar to that place. They are vibrant areas that encourage teamwork and entrepreneurship. You can reach the different areas on the first and second floor via a route which has a purposely neutral look with lots of greenery. Each learning area stands out immediately due to their distinctive and striking colour schemes, as well as their own 'market stall' in a matching colour: a large wall cabinet in which the students’ work is displayed per learning area.’
Ergonomic and activating furniture
Gispen furnished the entire school: furniture for the reception area, classrooms, offices and cafeteria. In addition to our own collections and products from various other brands, we supplied a large amount of furniture from our sister company Presikhaaf, which specialises in sustainably manufactured school furniture. Jeroen: ‘Naturally, it was important for the offices to be comfortable and ergonomic for our employees.’ This is where we installed TMNL desks with Gispen Zinn office chairs. Jeroen adds: ‘However, we did not forget about the furniture for our teachers. If you want to activate your students, you also need to activate your teachers! You need to ensure they do not sit for too long, keeping them in motion.’ We have therefore provided them with small, mobile and height-adjustable desks, accompanied by Ray Swivel teaching chairs, which are specially designed for dynamic sitting– the seat follows the movement and shape of the upper legs.
Whether students want to sit high or low, in a small or large group, everything is accommodated for. Rob Stöver, Business Manager at Gispen: 'Houtkamp College opted for triangular tables on wheels supplied by Presikhaaf, which are very multi-functional. The Set Up in Circles tables and benches can be arranged in a circle, but can also be placed in a wave-shaped setup, for example. High UT tables, at which students can also stand, add a certain dynamism to the classrooms. We advised Jeroen to opt for Eduu Work chairs instead of high stools. These are height-adjustable bucket seats on which students sit much more comfortably. We supplied around 200 chairs that have a circular advantage: the buckets can be reused. Worn-out or damaged bucket seats can be ground into granules from which we make new Eduu buckets.’
Tight deadline? Good project management
Houtkamp College wanted to get off to a good start in the academic year of 2020-2021. We were faced with a very tight deadline, however. Rob: 'We always have some furniture in stock, but we needed the summer holidays to produce new furniture. Fortunately, Presikhaaf has quite a large factory in Arnhem as Gispen does in Culemborg.' Gispen project supervisor Gerard van de Boezem straightened everything out. He coordinated all the deliveries, and everything was subdivided per classroom. Rob: ‘We also pointed out right away that it would be possible to bring in rental furniture where necessary. Jeroen: 'This solution allowed us to get started when we needed to, which was great.’
A word from the architect
‘In order to make the transition from primary to secondary school a more gradual one, the interior radiates a sense of security. Lots of light and green with a beautiful view of the surrounding neighbourhood. The learning areas add colour to the environment. It was a great project to work on, which was based on trust in each other's expertise: education, furniture and – in our case – construction supervision and interior design. We presented quite an advanced proposal in terms of furniture, to which Gispen added significant input. It was clear they wanted to make this project a collaborative success, which shows in everything that they do.’
Are you satisfied with the result?
Jeroen: ‘We have received many positive responses to the building and its interior. People tell us the environment is refreshing and that the variation in furniture is very much appreciated. Vivian: ‘The result is beautiful. I think it's great that we stayed true to the essence of what our initial plan looked like. Especially because everyone was so involved in the thought process.’