top of page

Amsterdam Regional Community College, Amsterdam, NL

Future reorganisation of ROCvA towards the creation of 12 regional Community Colleges

Overview of Amsterdam showing locations for future Regional Community Colleges

For 5 years, S333 worked closely with a school organisation, the ROCvA, to research and design new types of multifunctional school buildings that are more integrated into their urban context.


ROCvA stands for ‘Amsterdam Regional Community College’ which covers Amsterdam and the nearby towns of Amstelveen, Hoofddorp and Hilversum. It is one of the largest Community Colleges in Europe, offering vocational education and training for 35,000 students in about 60 locations. Its long-term strategy is to re-locate all its regional facilities into a series of large, multi-functional buildings that are fully integrated with their surroundings.


On four challenging locations in Amsterdam, ROCvA commissioned S333 to carry out urban and architectural studies. In the search for sustainable solutions, the contexts of each location directed the choice of vocational education and the mix of uses to link with the surrounding neighbourhood on each site. The result of this working methodology produced Community Colleges that mixed school activities and community-based functions in different ways.

                                      Location 1: Amsterdam-Noord  

Location 1: Community College diagram

This community college is in the centre of Amsterdam-Noord (Amsterdam North) located beside the soon-to-be-completed North-South metro station.


S333’s approach is focused on three objectives; to position and shape the school building in relation to movement flows through the site; to spread mixed-use functions across the whole site at street level, thus animating all the surrounding streets; to implement a design based on ‘neutrality and flexibility’ to achieve a mixed-use building that can last and be adapted throughout the following 100 years.


All objectives play a key determining role in the organization of a building that combines elements of shopping mall design with traditional ‘urban passage’ to generate an integrated, 24/7 community-based school that functions for different users at different times of the day.


ROCvA’s educational vision asks for greater pedestrian movement in and out of the building and at greater frequency. The organization of core, collective functions is based on arranging external entrances onto the surrounding streets and internal entrances around a generous ‘urban passage’, animated by cafes, restaurants and media centre that steps up and opens out onto roof gardens, play areas and terraces.


The standardization of construction grids, supported by the strategic positioning of service cores, entrance foyers and circulation zones addresses ROCvA’s ambition to have a robust school model that can survive internal changes and external market dynamics, while always presenting a dynamic façade to the surrounding streets.

View from east passage

ROCvA situated as traffic hub

Exploded axonometric showing program

ROCvA urban section with metro line                                   

Location 2: Amsterdam Zuid-As

Location 2: Community College diagram

This community college is on the edge of Amsterdam Zuid-As, the Netherlands’ largest inner-city development, currently under construction. It’s a strategic location - a major ‘gateway’ into the centre of the city – and opposite the RAI, the Netherlands’ most import venue for international trade shows, exhibitions and events.


There is emphasis in Amsterdam Zuid-As on encouraging the importance of the street and street-based activities, through the transparent and mixed-use character of the lower floors in all new buildings. This forms the starting point for S333’s project. All parking is removed from the street and placed underground to facilitate views and flows through the building. Exhibition and conference facilities for the RAI are incorporated on the ground and first floors, bringing new synergies to the Community College’s training and business facilities.


Amenities to serve the local neighbourhood are spread along the length of the building to ensure vitality at night and during weekends, when the business district is less dynamic. School functions hover above the foyer spaces, opening onto roof gardens and terraces. In this proposal, many ‘buildings’ and activities are combined in one unifying landmark structure to animate the full length of the site.

ROCvA situated within a traffic node                                   

Concept section and urban plinth                                          

View from central atrium   

Location 3: Jan van Galenstraat

Location 3: Community College diagram

The site for this community college is in the east of the city and visible from the A10, Amsterdam’s main ring road. However roads, a canal and open wasteland that surround the site on all sides also isolate the site from its surroundings.


As a means to re-urbanise the greater area, S333 proposed to fill the ground floor of the building with a range of social and commercial functions. By attracting people to the building arriving by foot, car or public transport, the intention was to help ROCvA successfully integrate its facilities at both local and regional scales. The four key elements of the programme sit like independent blocks above a plinth of collective parking.


From a distance, the exterior façade is aimed at creating a new landmark in this distinctly characterless district of Amsterdam. The interior glass façades are designed to reflect light in different ways, depending the season and the angle of the sun.


ROCvA section                                             

ROCvA concept model                                             

Location 4: Amstelveen

Location 4: Community College diagram

The site of this community college is in Amstelveen, on the southern edge of Amsterdam, close to Schipol Airport and bordered by sports fields and industrial terrains. A recent study confirmed this area as being one of the most unattractive and least visited areas of the city.


S333 therefore placed great emphasis on making safe, meaningful public and collective spaces in and around the building, with clear links to local public transport and reinforced by an architectural strategy premised on making a building that spreads across to engage with the whole site.


Designed rather like an octopus, the building’s head and heart are the ROCvA facilities, arranged around a central courtyard garden. Tentacles of ancillary program spread out from the building’s centre framing gardens, landscaped parking areas and outdoor amenities. At the site perimeters, the tentacles house public facilities that interact with the surrounding neighbourhood.


ROCvA as a community attractor

ROCvA concept plan                                    

View towards ROCvA entrance                                      

ROCvA, Amsterdam, NL



ROCvA (Amsterdam Regional Community College)


Educational space


Community facilities 

Site areas

0.5 ha - 1.8 ha

bottom of page