history with a modern twist

St. Bonifatius College, Utrecht

The prestigious St. Bonifatius College in Utrecht recently celebrated its centennial anniversary. To honor its rich past and prepare for a bright future, the school building underwent a comprehensive renovation and expansion. This transformation has not only enhanced the sustainability of Boni (making it nearly energy-neutral) but also positioned it to accommodate a growing student population in a high-quality and comfortable environment.

Photography: Mike Bink

secondary school

PCOU Willibrord



in use

The design of the renovated St. Bonifatius College pays homage to the school's history. This is evident from the street, where the characteristic facades from the 1960s have been preserved. Brickwork with concrete window frames adorns the main building, while tall, concrete elements define the two building wings. To maintain the authentic character of the main building, various measures were taken, including insulating the building envelope from the inside.

"The sustainable and energy-efficient building, featuring spacious classrooms and work spaces, aligns perfectly with the school's educational concept, providing ample space for classroom teaching while offering greater flexibility and options for our students."
Hanneke Schreuder, St. Bonifatius College

A nod to the past
Behind these familiar facades, an entirely new educational realm was created. The starting point was ideal: the main building and two wings form a U-shape around a courtyard. Consequently, the main building was expanded at the rear to include a bright, spacious auditorium (along with additional educational areas above it). This is centrally situated within the building and adjacent to the square. The auditorium serves as a hub for meetings and activity and forms the vibrant new heart of Boni.

The extension was executed with careful consideration for the past. The former reddish-brown brick outer facade of the main building remains a standout feature. Inside, in fact, it has been left in sight, as in the auditorium. This facade imbues the space with atmosphere. At the same time, the existing part is visually separated from the new: through the installation of skylights and walkable glass along the extension's entire length. This intervention brightens up the learning environment, allowing plenty of daylight to enter.

Before and after: a functional facelift
One of the wings on this courtyard, which originally housed Boni's sports hall, has been replaced by a new two-storey education wing. To preserve the existing foundations (including an underground bicycle storage facility), this wing was constructed with wood (including a timber frame construction). This intervention offers advantages, in terms of lightweight construction and a smaller ecological footprint.

The other education wing underwent a transformation as well. The traditional layout, featuring narrow classrooms along one side of a long corridor, was deemed impractical. The solution involved merging corridors with classrooms and creating a new corridor incorporating workstations alongside. This extension optimizes the utilization of this building part. Furthermore, it makes this part more sustainable, by adding a new facade in front of it.

The new transparent courtyard facades are adorned with a grid pattern reminiscent of the 1960s facades. The building's U-shaped layout and openness promote interaction and strengthen the bond between students and teachers. All educational areas overlook this square. You are seen there, you know what is going on. It also helps you find your way around the building.

"The atmosphere is incredibly pleasant and soothing, thanks to the use of warm colors, new furniture, and layout. There's a space for everyone to work collaboratively or independently. Even in the classrooms, which are larger than before the refurbishment, there is now more space to teach according to the needs of the student."
teacher, St. Bonifatius College

An interior with a modern look
Boni's interior has undergone a significant transformation. A transition from a traditional teaching model to a subject-based clustering system. Each cluster provides spaces for both instruction and learning spaces, encouraging independent or collaborative learning. Additionally, dedicated spaces between classrooms offer opportunities for silent study or teacher work.

Each cluster offers a distinctive and inspiring learning environment. For instance, the Arts & Culture-cluster is conveniently located near the entrance and the auditorium, making exhibitions easily visible. The Science-cluster boasts a roof terrace suitable for outdoor education. The Languages-cluster is directly linked to the media library or open learning center, designed as a striking glass box.

"The result of this renovation is a healthy environment for both students and staff, which benefits their performance and well-being. The interior radiates a cozy, homely ambiance. Boni is a place to be proud of and enjoy going to. It is also the place where future generations of students can continue to grow and prosper."
Erik Schotte, LIAG architects + engineers

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