Hoornbeeck College

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Eye-catching tile pattern reflects traditional Dutch character

For the transformation and expansion of the Dutch reformed Hoornbeeck College in Rotterdam, ConverseArchitects took inspiration from the style of the Dutch Masters. A main feature of this project is its horizontal interplay of lines created through the use of traditional Dutch building materials and colors. An eye-catching pattern made of Mosa tiles in the entrance creates a pure and serene atmosphere.



The colorful ceramic floor runs from the large central entrance through to the newly built multifunctional auditorium. ‘The interplay of lines in the tile pattern creates a natural connection between the rooms,’ explains architect Machiel Hopman. ‘The spatial layout of the hall was inspired by 17th century paintings of church interiors. The floor reflects the pattern of ditches in the Dutch polder landscape, with the tiles taking on the colors of the sky, water, earth, sun, grain, grass, and rain. It didn’t take us long to find the right tiles at Mosa as they have that quintessential Dutch character. With their pure tile design and impressively broad range of colors, Mosa is a perfect match for our ideas.’




Hart van Zuid (Heart of South)

Hoornbeeck College is a Christian reformed college for vocational training located right at the heart of the tough, gritty neighborhood of South Rotterdam. The transformation of this school for senior secondary education forms part of the urban redevelopment plan ‘Hart van Zuid’ which is led by project developer Ballast Nedam West. In 2017, ConverseArchitects was commissioned to improve the complex layout of the building, which had already undergone several renovations over the years, and to expand it by adding around 32,000 square feet of teaching rooms. Hopman used the connection between the existing building and the new wing to create an open heart at the center and a multifunctional auditorium for lunch and meetings. The building now provides space for more than 1,700 students.



"The floor reflects the pattern of ditches in the Dutch polder landscape."





"As an architect, I always try to incorporate the identity and core values of the user and client in the building."


Religious and historical context

‘The students of Hoornbeeck College and their parents live according to the norms and values of Johannes Hoornbeeck, a 17th century philosopher and theologist,’ Hopman informs us. ‘I considered it a personal mission to ensure that the school’s architecture reflected its Christian faith. As an architect, I always try to incorporate the identity and core values of the user and client in the building. In this case, the school’s religious and historical context provided a few good additional starting points.’

Old Masters and polder landscape

During the design phase, Hopman learned more about Hoornbeeck’s contemporaries. ‘I came across the works of Old Masters such as Frans Hals, Gisbertus Voetius, and Pieter Jansz Saenredam. I was particularly fascinated by Saenredam’s paintings of serene church interiors. The high vertical spaces inspired me to extend the new central hall over three floors. Wooden footbridges – which connect the old and new buildings – exude the same atmosphere as the churches in Saenredam’s paintings.’ In addition to the works of the Dutch Masters, Hopman was also inspired by the polder landscape to think in terms of lines and line perspectives. By incorporating a line pattern into the tile surface, a literal connection was created between various rooms around the school’s new central hall. ‘Mosa was the best possible partner in ceramics for this project,’ Hopman tells us. ‘We’ve enjoyed a great working partnership for many years now. Just like ConverseArchitects, Mosa has a penchant for timeless, functional, and innovative design.’




Small-format tiles

For the floor in Hoornbeeck College, the architect chose 6 x 6-inch tiles from Mosa’s Global Collection. ‘During our own creative process, we placed various sizes next to one another to see which format produced the most attractive line pattern. The 6 x 6-inch tiles gave the best results. Initially, our client was somewhat less enthusiastic about using a small tile size. Bear in mind that students are constantly spilling things on the floor, day in and day out. There were some concerns regarding maintenance and the durability of a floor with so many joints. This topic was discussed intensively and at length, with Mosa and with the experienced craftsmen tasked with laying the floor.’


Tilers as artists

‘Mosa provided detailed advice on the best type of joint to use. It is reassuring to know that Mosa has this expertise in-house. They provided the client with technical assurance regarding the execution of the architectural design. Together with a group of people from Hoornbeeck College, we also went to look at other schools with a similar tiled floor. In addition, we laid down test floors on which we threw coffee, tea, and other messy substances as an experiment. This didn’t cause any problems. In the end, the client gave us their approval. The tilers really enjoyed the challenge of laying the tiles in a pattern as it almost felt as though they were creating a work of art.’


Hoornbeeck College and ConverseArchitects are happy with the result. Hopman tells us, ‘Although the floor primarily has a functional purpose, it also gives this space a definite feeling of individuality. Hart van Zuid in Rotterdam is a dynamic and cosmopolitan district where anything can happen. Hoornbeeck College is a welcoming and sheltered community within this area where students can find a sense of calm. The new school building now radiates this air of serenity.’

Project details
Project: Hoornbeeck College
Architect: ConverseArchitects
Location: Rotterdam (Netherlands)
Completion: 2017
Mosa series: Global Collection / Globalgrip
More information

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