Hugging the garden...

07 Mar 2011

syntax architektur completes new school in Austria

The client's brief was very short: 6 classes of 25 children, aged between 2 and 6 years, 2 fitness and movement rooms and amenity rooms on a site, that is situated along a narrow street with one-family houses dotted around a south facing slope.

In order to maximise garden space and to keep an old copper beech, the concept was to push the new building as far to the street in the north and connect to an adjacent existing building. This measure implies that the school is built into the slope and the ground floor gets generous light from the south. Light wells illuminate the hallway and corridor which opens up to a movement room, creating a generous and differentiated multi-purpose space. To respect the surrounding building pattern the volume of the school gets reduced by breaking the lines of the façades and roof.

During the planning process the client has been convinced to improve upon the building's CO2 footprint. Building materials are predominantly CO2 neutral. All above ground construction is made of timber, which can be experienced through the untreated timber surfaces of the interior. Natural rubber flooring, a ventilation system with heat recovery are new standard for the county's school buildings. Solar panels provide for hot water supply.

All group-rooms are facing south in a zig-zag. The garden melds with the building. Children can observe the sequences of seasons, the changes of weather, the village with the church tower and other playing children. The projection of the balcony and roof allow the children to play outside even when it is raining.

While the amenity rooms, the entrance and corridors are all planned in a rectangular order along the north axis, the concept of the classrooms is based on free forms. Neighbouring classes can see each other across the terrace or balcony and visit each other through connecting doors. The concept of the free form and the context to the outdoor space was convincing to the teachers. As a result the children are allowed to explore their greater play area more independently. They are allowed to visit other groups, play in the garden and improve their skills of social interaction.

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