Tanalised timber cladding provides the feel of woodland at Dutch school.

The façade of St Theresa School in Bilthoven, Holland needed to be warm, recognisable and complement the lightly wooded landscape in which it is located. Therefore the choice for Tanalised E pressure treated timber cladding was made. As a combined primary school, child daycare and community centre, the rounded shapes of the building depict three logs with the treated cladding representing the bark. The school is located in the Biltse woods, a sandy area of deciduous trees and the design of the building and the cladding ensures that the building fits in with its forested surroundings.

The curving walls of the school have been clad in Siberian Larch, treated by Foreco Dalfsen with Tanalith E preservative with a water repellent additive, that will not only ensure a long service life for the timbers but will also help maintain its dimensional stability and attractive appearance. Each of the three ‘logs’ house a cluster of classrooms and functional rooms and open onto a central space. The floor plan represents the leaves of the trees and inside the floors have been finished in 6 different autumn colors to re-enforce the tie to nature.

The idea of open space is translated into the central area at the heart of the building. The classroom groups have the rounded shapes of trees and these contrast with the gym, which has the shape of a rectangular steel protective box. The “trees” are surrounded by a wooden facade with smooth rounded corners and a high roofline. Around the school are lawns and playgrounds for the youngest children and at the front of the playground is a climbing structure which completes the project. In the playground children can climb, play football, table tennis, chess or enjoy sitting on a couch. The overall feel is one of a natural meeting place for the school and neighborhood.

Spring Architecten of Rotterdam commented that: “This is great a way of using treated timber that not only preserves the wood, but also maintains its colour and appearance, something we felt was very important in this project. And, it is very affordable, which was important because we had to work within the limited budgets of the Municipality.”

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