MPI De Luchtballon en BUSO De Richter Genk


The De Richter campus in Genk accommodates two schools: the MPI De Luchtballon, a primary school for children with learning difficulties, behavioural and emotional problems, autism spectrum disorder and (borderline) normal abilities, and BUSO De Richter, a school for special secondary education.

The campus contained a number of pavilion-style school buildings from the 1970s that no longer had any physical construction value. It was therefore decided to demolish these volumes and replace them with a new structure.

META read the campus model of De Richter as an expression of various formal figures. The project proposal added 3 more: a square, a circle and a triangle.

The square is the building that grasps onto the existing orthogonal structure and organises the programme in a simple and clear way. One side is reserved for the BUSO and 3 sides for the MPI (a U-shape of 2 facing classroom wings, connected by the wing containing the administration facilities and a double-height gymnasium).

By creating a courtyard space, the construction depth that could be used for the educational facilities was optimised. As a result, the classrooms all benefit from natural light. Furthermore, this also allowed for the development of a playground that can be safely monitored but which never feels confined.

The circles form the playgrounds: 3 in the courtyard, of which 1 is located outside the volume. The circles are soft, tangible shapes, tailored towards the students of the MPI. They are also clearly readable figures for the supervisors.

Lastly, the equilateral triangles manifest themselves in the form of freestanding canopies on the circles. They therefore complete the multitude of clearly readable shapes on the site.

The totality of the project proposal is a clear figure, which takes into account the existing landscape structures and cleverly responds to the circulation flows on the site. This is a clear and effective programme distribution, logically structured within a compact and sustainable building.






Atelier Kempe Thill architect partner
Landinzicht Landschapsarchitecten landscape design
ABT structural and MEP engineering