The architects and the contractor worked with the school administrators of Sint-Lievenspoort to renovate the building, embracing the existing character and quality of the structure whilst factoring in the new building regulations and guidelines such as the new acoustic requirements. For the BuBaO Sint-Lievenspoort School, this was of particular importance as it is a school for special elementary education, working with children who have hearing problems or who are on the autism spectrum.
Approaching the challenge
To approach this challenge, the architects began by looking at the different spaces within the school, and the specific requirements they each had as a result. Flexibility was key in the design, as the school was being used after-hours as a large meeting space and a centre for community events. With increased urbanization, this is a growing trend for shared space usage in rural communities: as increasing numbers migrate to city centres meaning the population decreases in rural areas, architects need to renovate existing schools and other municipal buildings to ensure the same buildings can serve multiple different purposes and cater to different target groups at different times. This sets higher demands for the architectural design.
While the hallways had more room to showcase the historical elements of the building, the classrooms were treated as specialised studios with break vaulted ceilings. A free-hanging island solution was created with acoustical ceiling tiles. The ceilings were selected not only for their technical specifications relating to acoustics, but for the durability and fire safety that Rockfon products provide.
A beautiful conversion improved by acoustic materials
Another intriguing element of the renovation was the conversion of the existing chapel into a gymnasium. The chapel has a valuable interior with beautiful wooden vaulted ceilings and detailed heritage paintings. Acoustic improvements were made by introducing shortened walls on two sides, and an office was built in with acoustic materials to allow teachers a space for work.
One aspect of the renovation that the architects embraced was working with the needs of their users, in this case, the school children. To make sure children could find their way through the school and easily and quickly feel comfortable in their environment, every floor was given its own identity.
The BuBaO Sint-Lievenspoort School head teacher was one of the first in the overall project to benefit from the improved quality of the teaching environment once the renovation was complete. Like many of her students in the school, she too has hearing difficulties, and has found that the teaching environment is significantly better for both the teachers, who can hear the students better, and the students, who are quieter, more comfortable and more at ease in their new environment.
The BuBaO Sint-Lievenspoort School