The Steiner kindergarten in Turnhout

Creative with ventilation 

The new Steiner kindergarten in Turnhout exudes Rudolf Steiner's philosophy in every respect. The striking building with its organic timber façades, which provides the perfect expression of openness and creativity, commands attention and invites exploration. 'Welcoming' is the visual keyword. The less visible, but no less important advantage is comfort, thanks in part to the decentralised D ventilation system from Airmaster that continuously ensures optimum air quality in the classrooms.

The design of the kindergarten at the Michaëlschool was devised by Avora Architects and implemented by POPP AERT Architects. Avora Architects worked intensively with five teachers and five parents. Creating an attractive and pleasant environment was central to the design process. The result is a building that decisively breaks with the traditional, boring image that is typical of most schools. The wooden façades and organic forms alone are exceptional for this type of building. But the inside is also different, with L-shaped classrooms and curved ceilings. "This new building was necessary to accommodate the rapidly growing number of pupils in this Steiner school," says Sigurd Borghs, Director of the school. "There was still enough space on this former factory site to set up a separate kindergarten. Initially, there were to be three classrooms on the ground floor, but before the start of construction, the design had to be expanded to include a fourth classroom on the first floor. This means there is now space to teach ninety preschool children in the best possible conditions."

Ventilation can also be decentralised

The optimal teaching conditions are not only the result of the specific design, layout and furnishing of the classrooms: the preschoolers and teaching staff can also enjoy a continuous supply and extraction of air. "Schools are characterised by a large number of people in a rather limited area," says Maarten Diels. "That's why classrooms often need a higher ventilation rate than other rooms. Bringing in fresh air with a C system is not an ideal solution in such environments. Because the fresh air is supplied through grilles, there is a real chance that the airflows are too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer. The 'Michaël' kindergarten therefore wanted to implement a D system, but the required duct work threw a spanner in the works. Due to the organic forms of the building, this simply could not be integrated into the architecture. Fortunately, with the decentralised D system, Airmaster offers the perfect solution for such cases."

Solution with many advantages

Each classroom and the communal area were fitted with their own air handling unit. "These are already equipped with a supply and extract air grille, meaning that no extra duct work is required and easy installation is certainly a possibility," explains Maarten Diels. "By using active noise control, whereby low-frequency noise is attenuated, the people in the building will experience absolutely no noise nuisance from the air handling units. In the communal area, an impressive 1100 m³/h of fresh air can be supplied and extracted under a noise level of 35dB (A). The fact that our decentralised solution requires very little duct work is a tremendous advantage both technically and financially.

But that's not all: it also allows the provision of very simple CO2 control for each room. We achieve this by equipping each unit with a sensor. This detects the carbon dioxide content and automatically adjusts the airflow depending on the occupancy of each room. This in combination with a timer set to school hours ensures that the units work extremely efficiently and that no unnecessary energy is used. Basically, the teaching staff no longer have to deal with ventilation: the system works fully automatically.

The school is now up and running and the results are extremely positive. In short, Airmaster has once again proven that decentralised ventilation is a simple but excellent solution."

Text: Els Jonckheere

Published: Bouwen aan Vlaanderen (Belgien) nr. 02 2019

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"Because the decentralised ventilation solution did not require any duct work, the new Steiner kindergarten was able to implement a D ventilation system after all."    

Source: Article in Bouwen aan Vlaanderen, no. 2, 2019, page 189      

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