The rural market town Bütze-Wolfurt in the Bregenz district of Vorarlberg wanted to enlarge their primary school and integrate the neighboring kindergarten and daycare center. The decision was made to completely refurbish the old three-story building from the 1960s and demolish the part from the 1990s due to structural reasons. The gymnasium in the basement was preserved and built over with two new floors. The new 60-meter-long and 27-meter-high timber-frame volume with a smooth wood-clad façade and a plastered plinth – details which were also taken over on the existing building – now forms a harmonious extension of the school complex. The new structure with a pergola at each end integrates calmly into the scenic beauty of lush fields and trees and the rural character of the town. The pergolas at the ends of the new building, with their wood slats and galvanized steel stairways, balconies, and coffered ceilings, are important design elements, which – in contrast to the subtle articulation of the main façade – form a “second, more intimate face” to public space. The “verandas” also serve as emergency escape routes and act like “gills” to the lush green fields, tobogganing hills, and orchards. Furthermore, they also reveal the structure of the building. When it rains, the children can romp around in this “in-between zone” or eat their lunch on the wood benches. When it is hot, they can rest here in the shadows. Depending on the time of day and season, the wood slats create a fascinating interplay of light and shadows. Regardless if they have their class on the ground floor or the first, all children can use this area to directly access the garden, without having to make a detour via the main staircase in the building.
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