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Open air school in the Netherlands, 1918


Open air schools were purpose-built educational institutions for children, designed to prevent and combat the widespread rise of tuberculosis that occurred during the World War II period.

, The schools were built on the concept that fresh air, good ventilation and exposure to the outdoors contributed to better health. The new institution was founded by doctors researching new prophylactic methods and teachers interested in an open-air educational experience.

In 1904, Dr. Bernhard Bendix and the educationist Hermann Neufert founded the first such school: the Waldeschule in Charlottenburg, near Berlin, Germany.


Classes were held in the woods to provide open-air therapy to young townspeople with pre-tuberculosis. Experiments by the International Congress of Hygiene were immediately attempted throughout Europe and North America: in Belgium in 1904, in Switzerland, England, Italy and France in 1907, in the United States in 1908, in Hungary in 1910, and in Sweden in 1914.

The schools were called "forest schools" or "open air schools". Often they were located away from cities, set up in tents, prefabricated barracks, or reconstructed structures, and operated during the summer.

The open air school movement got organized after the First World War. The first International Congress was held in Paris in 1922 at the initiative of The League for Open Air Education, created in France in 1906 and at the initiative of its president, Gaston Lemonier.


There were four more congresses: in Belgium in 1931; in Germany in 1936; Marked by the participation of the German doctor Karl Triebold; in Italy in 1949; and in 1956 in Switzerland.

In accordance with the ideas of the Open Air School, the architecture was to provide wide access to the outside, with large bay windows and a heating system that allowed work with the windows open.

The most notable of these schools were by the architect Jan Duiker (1929–1930) in Amsterdam, Holland, by Eugne Beaudoin and Marcel Lauds (1931–1935) in Srens, France, and by Kai Gottlob (1935–1938) in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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