Back to School
Elementary school and New Middle School in Eichgraben, Lower Austria
In the growing Lower Austrian town of Eichgraben, the 1950s-era facilities of the Primary and New Secondary School had become too small. Initially, the town did what towns usually do: they hired a local builder to plan and slap on some random addition with a Styrofoam façade and an uninspired floor plan. But plan delivered by the local builder failed to satisfy those responsible, above all the mayor, so they instead first took some time to think things through. And as Eichgraben’s stakeholders soon realized, a school can be more than a bunch of classrooms that get closed and locked up every afternoon – It can also be a community center.
School can be more – a progressive educational structure, an oasis of learning, music-making, dancing, and playing. In short: a place for the community.
Eichgraben’s town councilors therefore set about paying visits to Austria’s best schools, holding informational events, and also organizing evening discussions so that teachers, parents, and local residents could get involved in the process. They then issued a tender for a new school building and were ultimately won over by our design.
Open to All
Our wood-and-glass addition accommodates new classrooms and group spaces. And most importantly, its layout provides for a front courtyard between the pre-existing structure and the new one – a visible opening to the town and its main street that also gives the New Secondary School its own representative entrance.
On the rearward side, we added a large assembly hall that can be used for all kinds of school events. And outside of school hours, this hall benefits the community as a place where the orchestra and choirs can rehearse and local associations can meet.
Expanded Spaces for Play and Learning
In what used to be a hallway-oriented school like the ones built back in Empress Maria Theresia’s day, our new classroom layouts and window bays now make for a place of learning with light and transparency. What’s more, a rooftop terrace and a newly designed garden with outdoor classroom areas provide varied and generous spaces for playing, studying and learning, and relaxing.
Our enlargement and remodeling of the schools in Eichgraben didn’t revolutionize school architecture. More important to us here was that teachers, students, and parents enjoy going to their refreshed and modernized school. And the community, for its part, has grown from its engagement in the overall process.
Instead of copying preexisting structures, we expanded the old school by new spaces and showed a growing community how, even for adults, a school is a place where you just might be in for a surprise when you walk in!
Type of commission
Scope of commission
Net usable floor area
Gross floor area
3,8 Mio. €
Lucie Vencelidesová (PL), Anna Ladurner (PL), Eva Fischer, Nadine Hoffmann, Joshua Meighörner, Claude Probst, David Huber, Alexandra Flanjak
Sarvari Energie Consulting e.U.
L.U.X. Beleuchtungskonzepte GmbH
Fire safety planning
Hoyer Brandschutz GmbH
A Quadrat ZT GmbH