Paul de Ruiter
1702 PDR Sonia Arrepia DENISE web 3newsupdate

Deputy Mayor Moorman officially opens DENISE International School in Amsterdam

July 2, 2019 Opening building

Amsterdam Deputy Mayor Marjolein Moorman (Education) opened The New Esprit International School (DENISE; in Dutch, De Nieuwe Internationale School) at an official ceremony that kicked off at 4pm on Tuesday 2 July. The original building, a listed educational building dating back to 1959, has been transformed by Paul de Ruiter Architects into a modern school that meets all the necessary requirements for offering a contemporary curriculum as well as rigorous standards of sustainability. Originally designed by architect Jan Leupen, the building has been restored to its former glory and modified to accommodate DENISE’s primary and secondary education needs.

The listed grade (2) of this former premises of the Cartesius Lyceum applies to both the school building and the wing housing the sports facilities. This meant preserving the building’s core structure and appearance. Also preserved are the glass mosaics by Harry van Kruiningen that flank the main entrance, and which the municipality has officially declared prime examples of post-war wall art.

The renovation
Our renovation retains many of the original building’s desirable features: high ceilings, large windows, wide corridors and the spacious theatre at the heart of the building.

Lowering the ground level and modifying the existing entrance has allowed us to create a new ground floor from what used to be the basement, thereby providing enough room for DENISE to meet all its primary school needs. Ground floor classrooms are situated along the façade, and can be amalgamated or split as required by sliding partitions concealed in internal walls. The floor-to-ceiling windows that constitute the façade ensure an abundance of daylight in all rooms, and afford the most expansive views possible. Each classroom has direct access to the playground, allowing students to move in and out without disturbing those in other classrooms.

The surrounding schoolyard, a green and pleasant playground, is climate-proof and features a highly efficient drainage system.

A natural supply of fresh air
The building is equipped with a new, energy-efficient climate regulation system that maintains air quality and room temperature at agreeable levels. The system is designed to admit oxygen via the façade and detect and remove CO2 mechanically, thereby facilitating an on-demand supply of fresh air. Air supply grilles are concealed behind sunshades in the façade. The climate regulation system runs vertically through the building, its features cleverly concealed in wall cabinets. Optimal thermal comfort has been further ensured by our replacement of the existing windows on all floors with double glazing and new wooden window frames, which also minimises energy consumption. The new façade’s features conform to the dimensions of the original one, thereby maintaining the building’s historical appeal.


DENISE is a member of the Esprit Scholengemeenschap, a consortium of twelve schools in Amsterdam. It is an international school that offers children of all nationalities a bilingual primary and secondary education.

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Photo: Sonia Arrepia

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