The De Rekke School, located in the heart of the Belgian town of Stabroek, near Antwerp, debuted a striking transformation. 

The newly completed major renovation, featuring Kebony wood cladding, highlights sustainability and innovation, incorporating both light and nature into its design, central tenets of the inspiring, educational ethos of the school. 

The new 8,600 sq. ft. building, designed by Bruno Dekoning, director of local architectural practice bureau ADAM, delivers a redeveloped school alongside the addition of state-of-the-art gymnasium. The new wing features seven kindergarten classrooms, a reception room, a dining hall with a kitchen, a play corridor, toilets, and a first aid room. 

Displacement ventilation and underfloor heating ensure indoor air quality and climate control, with environmentally conscious features including solar panels, a geothermal cooling system, a green roof, and sustainably sourced Kebony Character Cladding. 

The use of Kebony wood for both the exterior cladding and various interior elements gives the building a natural yet modern feel, in addition to the sense of continuity and calm that enhances the learning experience. 

“The vision for De Rekke was to create a space that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing, and we opted for a combination of concrete and Kebony wood,” Deckoning said. “This wood, which develops a silvery-grey patina naturally over time, provides a warm contrast to the concrete to create a harmonious balance and a welcoming setting.”

Developed in Norway, Kebony’s patented dual modification™ process permanently transforms the wood cell walls to become 50% thicker, forming locked-in furan polymers in a two-stage process. The wood is first infused with a bio-based liquid, to activate a chemical reaction in the cell walls and making it dimensionally stable, before being cured in a heating process. The resulting wood has a significantly reduced water sensitivity, does not splinter, and contains no toxins or chemicals, guaranteeing the required longevity and safety that is essential in the context of educational projects such as De Rekke school. 

“The new spaces are bright and open, contributing to a positive learning environment,” De Rekke School director Inge Coeckelbergs said. “The choice of Kebony wood, with its warm appearance and durable properties, aligns perfectly with our vision.”

De Rekke is one of several Belgian schools focused on environmental stewardship, with an environmental care project from nursery to secondary school, called milieuzorg op school (MOS), which translates to “environmental care at school.” The MOS project helps the school to develop its own environmental management system in a pedagogically responsible manner. Typical themes include waste, energy, nature, mobility and water.