Innovative Kebony wood at the heart of the transformation of De Rekke school in Stabroek

In the heart of the Belgian town of Stabroek, near Antwerp, the De Rekke school has undergone a striking transformation. The newly completed major renovation, featuring Kebony Character wood cladding, highlights sustainability and innovation, incorporating both light and nature into its design, central tenets of the inspiring, educational ethos of the school.

Renovated educational building outside Antwerp, Belgium, offers a first-class lesson in sustainable design

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. As Dekoning explains: “The vision for De Rekke was to create a space that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing. We opted for a combination of concrete and Kebony wood. 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.”

A pioneer in sustainable building practices for over 25 years, Kebony is the leading global producer of dually modified™ wood. Kebony transforms sustainable FSC-certified softwoods, such as pine, into products with comparable, and in some cases superior, aesthetic and mechanical characteristics to tropical hardwoods. The use of Kebony wood therefore diverts the need for deforestation of sanctioned and endangered wood species, helping to reduce global CO₂ emissions through the protection of vital rainforest carbon sinks.

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.

Inge Coeckelbergs, director of the De Rekke school for over 17 years, is delighted with the transformation: “The new spaces are bright and open, contributing to a positive learning environment. The choice of Kebony wood, with its warm appearance and durable properties, aligns perfectly with our vision.”Nina Landbø , International Sales Manager for Kebony, adds: ‘’The renovation at Stabroek demonstrates the future potential of sustainable construction, both in Belgium and globally. Thanks to the integration of innovative materials including Kebony, and a strong emphasis from bureau ADAM on ecological responsibility, the De Rekke school is setting a new standard for architectural projects in the region.“