Embracing Adaptive Reuse In A Circular Economy
Dutch studio BETA has transformed an old school in Amsterdam into a nub for entrepreneurs and startups.
Image: Photography: Marc Faasse
Ru Paré School
The Ru Paré School, located in the city’s Slotervaart neighborhood of Amsterdam became part of a program aimed at revitalizing places in the urban fabric that were once thought lost to neglect or hardship. In the early 2000s, the Ru Paré School was emblematic of such social problems.
As part of a program aimed at revitalizing the area's urban design and community feel, local enterprise foundation Stichting Samen Ondernemen (Foundation for Joint Entrepreneurship) asked the architects to convert the disused school building into a center for small businesses.
The Ru Paré is now the neighborhood’s center, a multi-income, multi-unit dwelling that provides for community business, allowing for new sources of income and commerce to draw people into the facility creating space that people occupy out of desire instead of necessity.
The building's configuration of classrooms, was transformed into a corridor of individual office and the former gymnasium into a lobby accommodating café seating, as well as a stage containing a comfortable sofa area. Other areas of the building were divided into more marketable compact units and an additional welcoming space at the core of the building.
The architects accommodated various issues and processes common in restoring and reusing a building, including economic and social climates that must be catered to, integrating pleasing aesthetic style into affordable situations.
BETA teamed up with urban strategist Elisabeth Boersma to organize workshops with the local community that ensure the Centre’s design responds to the needs of its users, including start-up companies whose rent contributes to the building's upkeep.
Students from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences also led a project aimed at salvaging materials from a local demolition site, which were then used in the Ru Paré interior to reduce costs and waste.
The Dutch with their character and attitude of reinvention have undertaken to achieve a 100% circular economy by 2050. We see it as crucial for economic growth, but moreover that it improves the well-being of society as a whole. Netherlands intends to become a living lab, generating and dissipating information on the transformation into a future-proof world. The Netherlands has launched the Netherlands Circular Hotspot (NLCH) so that we can leave behind a livable earth for future generations.