Living in an antique school 


rotterdam, NL | 2021 | competition | transformation, heritage, housing, community building | private

The former Sint Jansschool (1913) at Hammerstraat 15 is part of the unique and highly regarded Parish complex of the Hildegardiskerk (Hildegardis Church). The cultural and architectural quality of this ensemble is considered a significant asset for the entire neighbourhood. The objective is to restore the original quality of the façade through renovation, thus reestablishing its connection with the other buildings in this ensemble. The strength of the property lies in its harmony within the ensemble.

The tower of the building, with its distinctive incorporation, serves as a landmark for the neighbourhood. The generous interior space, along with ample natural light, makes the tower potentially suitable as a neighbourhood meeting place. Through a fully transparent entrance, the public space is extended into the interior, all the way to the top floor.

Following the trend of the various street libraries that have been on the rise in recent years, the ascent is accompanied by several independent bookcases managed by the primary school, the monastery, the church, the neighbouring building, and residents’ collectives. The collaboration of these bookcases creates a true vertical neighbourhood library, providing a space for informal gatherings. Facilities for reading and study nooks are also available. The tower is accessible for most of the day, and there is an elevator as well. The light that shines through the stained-glass windows in the evening and through the transparent entrance creates a literal beacon, contributing to the perceived safety of the neighbourhood.

Rotterdam Noord ranks 7th nationally in terms of annual housing value appreciation (NRC, April 17-18, 2021). This trend has made it increasingly challenging for ‘social climbers’ and first-time homebuyers in the neighbourhood to advance in their housing aspirations within the area. However, this group is vital for achieving the desired social cohesion and community involvement in the neighbourhood. They are often residents with existing social connections in the community or those with professions that serve a societal purpose. With the redevelopment of Hammerstraat, this proposal particularly targets the ‘social climbers’ and first-time homebuyers, many of whom are singles or couples seeking their first owned residence. Within the redevelopment of social real estate, this group is of utmost importance. This way, the teacher from Hildegardisschool can also live in the neighbourhood.

With this redevelopment, between 8 and 12 affordable 2 to 3-bedroom apartments in the mid-range housing segment with a gross floor area (BVO) starting from approximately 60 square meters will be added to the neighbourhood. Residents will share various communal facilities, such as an ‘indoor street’ on each floor, a common rooftop terrace, and a workspace. The apartments are accessed through a separate indoor street, distinct from the tower, which at the same time provides a covered outdoor space and promotes community building.