As playful and sustainable as a children’s game.

  • Dense urban fabric
  • Industrial wasteland
  • Lack of schools
  • District crossed by railway
  • Need for a new beating heart for the district

The winning competition project, ‘Site Van Oost’ forms an integral part of a larger sustainable development plan for the municipality of Schaerbeek. The project aims to supply the purely residential district with extended public services and to expand the housing supply.

Design a school & sports complex that:
— is integrated into a dense residential quarter.
— offers a playful, calm and safe environment for children.
— allows the different functions to coexist.
— constitutes a textbook example of sustainability.


01 Urban Planning

Integrate into history and reveal what’s hidden.

The very public project will be integrated into the inner side of a building block composed by traditional Brussels single-family houses. Previously occupied by the former brewery, Roelants, the site is anchored in collective urban memory. The bel-étage houses on rue Van Oost are restored and transformed into independent functioning apartments. The former entry to the brewery will give access to the schools and sports hall. A second entry is situated on rue Navez, where the new school complex lends a new identity to a ‘gap’ in the existing building front. The colourful entries stand out, giving a first glimpse of the playful world of the school lying behind.

  • Give new purpose inside the block
  • Preserve the historical facades
  • Use colours to announce the public function

02 Site plan

Site conditions define site plan and volumes.

Combining school, community and housing facilities, the Site Van Oost project hosts functions with different programmatic, circulation and privacy needs, destined for a diverse public. The specific layout of the site was an initial constraint for the location of the different functions and building dimensions. Building dimensions are adjusted to provide the specific levels of sound, light and sight comfort needed for each function and to minimise the impact on the surrounding buildings. The patios in the school buildings at the same time reduce the closed view on the railway and function as small ‘green oases’ within a very inorganic environment.

  • Dutch school
  • French school
  • Adjust sports hall building heights
  • Protect from railway noise & sight

03 Programme

Stimulate imagination in a reassuring context.

At the inner side of the building block, all facades are dynamic and composed by a large variety of textures and vivid colours, offering a pleasant and colourful environment for the children. In the meanwhile, they are all adapted to their specific orientation and relation with the exterior space. The site’s entries and circulation zones are designed to cope with the function’s public/private character while creating a highly readable environment for all the users of the complex.

  • Make space to play
  • Play with curves
  • Play with colors
  • Connective space

04 Environment

Place the school complex in a sustainable dynamic.

All new buildings are designed to fulfil to the most recent passive construction criteria (Brussels Capital Region). The building shapes are optimised to achieve compactness, while the envelope’s insulation is highly efficient, to provide thermal consistency. Windows and solar protection are positioned according to the orientation, using passive strategies to maximize internal comfort and allow natural light into the building. Green roofs contribute to the optimisation of insulation, in order to enhance energy performances. Heat recovery strategies are applied to the building’s ventilation system, rooftop rainwater is harvested to supply toilets and solar panels provide hot water to the sports hall and electricity.

  • Optimise the building dimensions, to minimize energy needs
  • Provide durable energy
  • Insulate with green, harvest rainwater


Aesthetic and technics interwoven

Technical information

Brussels (Schaerbeek), Belgium
14.385 m²
New construction, Renovation
Download technical sheet


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Vincent Dupont

Architect - Partner