Secondary academic school, Gainfarn, Lower Austria
New teaching methods call for flexible spatial concepts and a multifunctional kind of architecture: separable classrooms, work stations for teachers, encounter zones, chill-out and movement areas, outdoor teaching spaces. The era of hierarchically structured schools with classrooms strung out on long, dark corridors is over. When we first visited the former forester training school in Gainfarn/Bad Vöslau it represented exactly this kind of old-fashioned school; our aim was to modernise it fundamentally.
Amorphous, not angular
We demolished those parts of the building that could no longer be used and renovated the existing buildings dating from the 1970s. To these we added further wings arranged in a wind-wheel pattern around the new central hall, fifty metres long by sixty metres wide. Inside the hall we placed an amorphous element, because we felt there were already quite enough sharp corners. This is where the library is located, as well as a multi-purpose space.
There were already quite enough sharp corners.
The students change into their sports gear in the changing rooms, which are grouped with the showers and toilets in the rear section, and then head directly, on the same level, to one of the two adjoining sports halls or to the outdoor sports areas.
Side effect: the way the different parts of the building are placed in relation to each other creates a wide variety of outdoor spaces, niches and open areas.
The opposite of grey
To ensure that the central hall is more than just a place you walk across, we designed the stairs as a large seating area that receives plenty of light through a skylight above it. Students like to lounge here, do their homework, chat or play.
The cheerful spectrum of colouring pencil sets provided us with the inspiration for the ceiling.
The multi-coloured ‘pencil ceiling’ is an eye-catcher made from aluminium louvres that run on the diagonal below a background of black-painted acoustic ceiling panels. It is the absolute opposite of grey and efficiently absorbs the noise inevitably produced by so many kids. Serving as a connecting design element, it is found again in different parts of the building and is even continued outside as the soffit to the entrance canopy. Some people say it has become the symbol of the school.
Light, transparency, liveliness
Continuous ribbon windows turn corridors and rooms bright and airy while also ensuring a relationship to the outdoors throughout the building . The gaze is allowed to roam, thoughts can become clearer and the school-free afternoon seems closer – at least in visual terms. In the corridors windows with reveals useable as seats offer views into and out of the classrooms, generating light, transparency and vitality. The corridor-centric school is a thing of the past.
Outdoor living room
The roof terrace is an element we like to use in our school buildings, in this case we placed it on the flat roof of the central hall. On colourful round seating islands positioned between huge plant pots the students can chill out, revise, attend outdoor classes or watch their schoolmates at sports class on the playing fields below.
The ecological aspect: as well as giving the building a thermal retrofit, it was brought up to low energy consumption standard throughout. We found that complicated building services were unnecessary here. The woodchip heating system uses a fuel that is widely available in the region.
Type of commission
EU-weit offener Wettbewerb
Scope of commission
Bad Vöslau, Niederösterreich
Net usable floor area
Gross floor area
15,0 Mio. €
Lucie Vencelidesová (PL), Anna Gruber, Michael Hasslacher, Bernd Stuffer, Joseph Suntinger, Christian Szalay, Wolfgang Fischer, Daniel Kovacs, Larissa Sandhack, Kamile Batur
Schöberl & Pöll GmbH
Fire safety planning
FSE Ruhrhofer & Schweitzer GmbH
A Quadrat ZT GmbH
Kurt Kuball (5), Lukas Schaller (4)