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© Duccio Malagamba
© Duccio Malagamba
© Duccio Malagamba
© Duccio Malagamba
© Duccio Malagamba
© Duccio Malagamba
© Duccio Malagamba
One of Maria Montessori’s ideas was to stimulate children to learn by providing them with a wide choice combined with a clear structure. In the Montessori College Oost, this concept has been translated into architecture. The large hall that links all sections of the school is a meeting place and focus of communication for the 1,200 pupils from more than 50 different countries. They identify with “their school”. Since many of them come from unstable family backgrounds, they often prefer to spend their time at the college rather than at home. A “summer school” has now been set up, too, where children can learn during the holidays. The college is the first extended Montessori school Herman Hertzberger has built. In addition to theoretical teaching and conventional classrooms, it offers practical job training, with workshops, kitchens and a small sports hall. The special features of the building are probably incidental elements such as spaces outside the classrooms that can be used for spontaneous communication, stairs that serve as seating or writing areas, and the steps and benches one finds in every corner. The large atrium is dissected by numerous “staircase bridges”. Circulation and visual links were part of the architectural programme, for “a school should be like a small city”.