The new health care and nursing school of the City of Vienna stands directly on Triester Strasse in Vienna-Favoriten, one of the city’s busiest streets. Behind it, completely unnoticeable from outside, is the Kaiser Franz Josef Spital, a hospital laid out in a pavilion system, a 19th century urban planning type that today still possesses genuine qualities: generously sized green spaces, areas of park with mature trees, and individual buildings that establish intensive relationships to the outdoors.
The school is consistently organized in layers. All the teaching spaces along the length of the building are oriented towards the park side of the hospital, whereas all ancillary spaces, rooms used during breaks, as well as rooms for individual study are organised in spatial figures loosely placed along the entire length of the building that face towards the urban street space. A completely smooth glass skin – 120-metres long and without any openings – forms a noise protection element that is an integral part of the building. In front of this facade a row of trees with large crowns was planted. They will serve as an external sun shade that is self-regulating in accordance with the seasons. The trees forge a link between technical functionality and the emotional quality of the internal spaces. One works amidst the tree tops.
The existing levels of the site and the way the layout of the building responds to them resulted in two ground floors of equal importance. This complex internal disposition can be sensed already in the centrally positioned entrance hall: the building is entered on an intermediate level: the upper and lower ground floors are reached by inclined planes and ramps, which also, in a completely self-evident way, ensure easy access to both ground floors for disabled persons.
The school library takes the form of a bridge on the first floor of this central hall.
A linear wall of cupboards between the teaching spaces and the circulation and communication spaces is a central thematic element. On the one hand it provides storage space that is directly allocated to the classrooms, while on the other it is a partition wall with strips of glazing at the top and the bottom that provides the classrooms with sunlight (which changes constantly during the course of the day) from a second side.
In this way an important theme of buildings for teaching, namely social and educational sustainability, is handled here as an integral part of the building that can be perceived with the senses.
In everyday use the entire school building is a single, coherent, open spatial volume that provides space for differentiated communication between teachers and students.
An intelligent fire protection concept with self-closing, sliding fire protection doors and a fire smoke ventilation system that vents through the roof (developed by means of computer simulation) facilitated the strategy of a 4-storey open hall – a highly unusual feature in a school building.
A technically sophisticated ventilation system ensures a supply of fresh conditioned air for the classrooms. By blowing fresh air into the classrooms an excellent internal climate is created so that – in the interest of ecological sustainability – in each classroom air freed from CO2 is available for the entire teaching period.
A heat recovery system utilises the energy generated in the entire building and the warmth given off by the students to achieve a substantial reduction in the amount of energy required for heating.