Crisis in Dutch primary school-building design solved by paradigm shift?

Ronald de Vrieze, Henri C. Moll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional


There is an ongoing social debate concerning Dutch primary school design related to persistent physical environmental problems such as poor indoor quality and inflexible spatial elements. Increasing complexity and building construction process failures, as well as inexperienced school principals, also seem to be important impact factors. This analysis employed a multi-level model which reflects the interrelationship between needs, interests and views, which are in turn responsible for physiological, psychological and biophysical problems in the school-building design process. It shows that antagonistic interests seem to impede rational innovative pathways which could be used to enhance synergetic solutions. These interests impact on the process by affecting the objective decision-making process adversely, making the problems faced unnecessarily complex due to competing subjective desires. The new approach proposed here increases awareness by mirroring actors’ behaviour and their most important needs, possibly leading to a decrease in school-building design problems. By means of introducing a positive psychological approach and viewing these profound human needs as a social fractal, it is possible to create a new paradigm which might solve the school-design crisis. As a lever for changing the current processes, new tangible school-building design parameters also might become available. The aim of this study was to analyse the current problem patterns and assess the possibility of producing more synergetic solution patterns. On this basis, we developed a needs-centred guideline for primary schools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-60
JournalIntelligent buildings international
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • school buildings
  • design
  • well being


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