The 4th Gymnasium is the first energy-neutral high school in the Netherlands, built in the first energy-neutral district of Amsterdam, the Houthavens. The students of the 4th Gymnasium follow a special curriculum that emphasizes on culture and arts. Disciplines like film, drama, painting and drawing can be followed next to the regular curriculum. To enable these courses, we designed a studio, a cinema, a theatre and a laboratory alongside the regular classrooms.
The building is divided into three horizontal zones. In the plinth we placed the entrance and public programs. The main entrance connects the schoolyard to the atrium, the heart of the building. The atrium offers place to students during breaks, but can also easily be converted into a theatre. In the atrium we 'hung' different learning squares - where students can work independently - and balconies that act as lounge areas. The learning squares are connected to the class rooms via corridors; by opening a sliding door, the classrooms can be expanded combined with the learning square into a study landscape. The classrooms and workspaces are divided over the first and second floor, the top floor accommodates two gyms and a large rooftop terrace. After school-hours sports clubs and neighbours are allowed to use the gym, which is accessible via a separate entrance.
The façade is recognizable by its vertical layered surfaces, consisting of both transparent and colored enamelled glass and wooden frames that work as a solar screen. The aluminium top floor makes a distinction between the gym and the learning environment. Due to solar cells, district heating, concrete core conditioning and triple glazing isolation the building has been made energy-neutral. The natural ventilation guarantees an optimal indoor climate, which has a positive impact on the health and academic performance of pupils and staff.