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02.03.2016 | Words by: Jasmin Hoek

While trying to find more information about the tall, coloured artwork in the middle of the courtyard of De School, I came across a Facebook page dedicated to the first school that used to be located in the building. A former student, Okko Steensma, runs the 2e Christelijke Technische School Patrimonium page. I asked Okko Steensma if he could tell me more about the mysterious artwork and the courtyard, and how he remembers the building from his schooldays. 

Okko started the page out of curiosity. “Between 2011 and 2015, I drove past my former high school on a daily basis and noticed there was never a light burning inside the classrooms where we used to have our technical practice classes. I was curious what was going on there, so I decided to start this page.” A few years before, he shared some of his high school memories on the website geheugenvanwest.nl

Okko Steensma attended the 2e Christelijke Technische School Patrimonium, also known as Lagere Technische School Patrimonium, from 1966 until 1970. Founded in 1964, the school was almost brand new when he started his education there. As the name in Dutch suggests, it was a technical school. “After the first year, you had to chose between two careers. Basically, you had to choose if you wanted to continue working with either wood or metal. We had access to an extensive range of machinery, such as drills, grinding stones and workbenches.” He describes the school as a “typical boys school”. A school only for boys was not uncommon back in the Netherlands of the 1960s. Especially Christian schools were almost always single-sex schools. The Facebook page is filled with stories about pranks, playing truant and secretly calling teachers names. Okko adds: “Even though I graduated, I spent most of my school time fiddling around.” 

“De School’s courtyard was designed by the well known landscape and garden architect Mien Ruys.” Okko tells me. Mien Ruys (1904-1999) was known for her use of rectangular shapes and clean lines. In the Netherlands, she was one of the first architects who worked seriously on smaller city gardens. “It’s quite odd actually, we looked out on the courtyard from our classrooms, but we never went there. I even think the door to go outside was always locked. As far as I know, during my high school years none of the students ever set foot there, but I don’t recall any of us trying to go outside either. Maybe the garden was locked to keep us from smoking, which we all did secretly inside the toilets.”

In regard to the artwork in the courtyard Okko tells me he has been looking for more information on it himself as well. “I was surprised when I found a picture of the artwork online. It is coloured now, during my school time it was just plain metal.” He remembers it very well, since he looked at it from inside the classrooms almost every day. The artwork did not have any special meaning to him back then, but now he looks back it with a lot of nostalgia. “Nostalgia is what gives the artwork and the rest of the building a special meaning now.”

“I also remember another artwork, which was was build inside the wall and you could see the light shine through it. On one side of the wall was the wardrobe and on the other side of the wall was the canteen. The wardrobe had racks with metal hangers attached to it. At 8:30AM, we had to leave our coats there. The concierge would make sure we hung our coats neatly, and did not just throw them over the racks. When our classes were finished in the afternoon we rushed over to the wardrobe to get our coats again. The typical clattering of the hangers in the morning and afternoon was a terrible earsplitting sound,” he says. 

Lastly, I ask Okko how he feels about De School opening in the building of the 2e Christelijke Technische School Patrimonium. “De School is a great initiative. I was quite sad when I heard some rumours the building was going to be demolished. Last year I walked past it and saw it was completely empty, so I feared for the worst. I was happy to hear the building was going to be put to good use again.” It is a funny thought that the club is inside the basement where he used to stall his bike. When I ask him if anything exciting ever happened in the basement back then, he laughs. “Not really, quite often your bicycle wheel valve or moped fuel cap would magically disappear, even the teachers’ vehicles had to endure this sometimes. The concierge tried to keep an eye on us, but that wasn’t always possible. I don’t really recall anything else that happened there, it was nothing more than a normal bike basement back then.”
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