Carve designed the outdoor space of the ‘Talentcampus’, a new type of school that combines closed, half-open and normal primary education. Instead of focusing on their limitations, the talents of the children are stimulated. The three schools are integrated in one building – there is no strict separation between them, which enables a fluid communication and exchange. This principle was also the starting point for designing the surrounding schoolyards. The challenge was to offer the different groups a space of their own, whilst encouraging interaction between them at the same time. We found the solution in creating squares like compartments. By opening or closing the fences between them, the size of the playgrounds can be either enlarged or reduced, depending on the size and type of the group of children.
The ‘stages’ around the school are a buffer between the play- and parking zone. They are not only framing the play, but are also a sitting element and storage space. On the north side, a slanting concrete wedge, on one side clad with cor-ten steel, sticks out of the playground like a tectonic plate. The elevation is sitting edge, frame of the basketball court and backstop for the bike parking – but also a buffer to the street.
The most challenging aspect of the project was to formulate an answer to the demands on parking and water infiltration on site. The large amount of parking spaces had to be solved on the edges of the schoolyard, but this would result in a very large paved surface. The wish to soften the whole led to the invention of a new ‘grass-brick’, the Greenbrick, which was developed especially for this project.
‘Green’ and infrastructure are a difficult match; they are two different entities. The urban environment is getting more ‘stony’ though and, as a result of this, the problems with infiltration of rainwater more acute.
Attempts to implement grass stones often fail. Standard grass stones are not easy to combine with attractive looking brick pavement, and they often don’t meet the technical requirements of a road used by traffic. The invention of the Greenbrick is our answer to this problem, with which we were confronted in the project Talentcampus Venlo. The urban plan asked for solving the heavy parking demands within the boundaries of the site, whilst at the same time it was an explicit wish to make the area more green and attractive.
To create a uniform appearance, we wanted the grass to continue in the paving, without compromising on the paving pattern or the type of brick. This led to the development of the Greenbrick. In fact, the Greenbrick is a hollow brick: the HDPE case has the same size as a standard brick, which makes it possible to combine with any type of paving. Furthermore, the Greenbrick contributes to local water infiltration, as it is completely permeable. Recently, the Greenbrick was granted a patent.
Because the Greenbrick can be fully integrated into any paving patterns, it is much easier to make the city greener, creating a more comfortable and softer appearance. The Greenbrick even offers the possibility of ‘greening’ existing streets, without interfering with their traffic requirements. We look forward to the first initiative in which the Greenbrick will be applied to an existing street.
(Greenbrick was developed by Carve, and is produced by StruykVerwo)
Project name: Venlo Talentencampus
Project location: Venlo, The Netherlands
Area (size/m2): 7000 m2
Landscape Architecture: Carve / designing, engineering, site management and surveying