Text description provided by the architects. The elementary school provides an ideal educational facility for modern pedagogic approaches. It is an uncompromising example of cluster design offering a flexible and nurturing learning environment. In an elegant, one-story wooden structure, four identical teaching clusters are situated around a top-lighted lounge with a raised roof. The flat building blends harmoniously into the environment of single-family houses. The schoolyard in front of the auditorium is connected to the Unterdorf path network. Local residents can use parts of the outdoor areas and sports facilities.
Playful learning in small groups characterizes the pedagogical concept. In each cluster, two classrooms, a multi-purpose room, a cloakroom with bathrooms, and a relaxation area surround a central lounge. Spatial diversity and transparency result in a varied, flexible learning environment. The special classes and the administration are connected to the lowered gymnasium by a spacious auditorium. Moveable walls can isolate the auditorium from the school area, offering room for external events such as lectures, readings, etc. with a maximum of 120 persons. The separate access to the gymnasium enables local sports clubs to use it outside school hours.
The central lounge with its pyramid-shaped high ceiling and large skylight, allows natural light to stream into the room, offering an airy and dramatic space. Visual axes are a constant invitation to use the space in the middle, strengthening the sense of community within the cluster. Large glazing provides transparency and allows teachers to always keep an eye on the students during their activities. Private gardens and the outdoor classrooms with direct access from each cluster blur the boundaries between the interior and exterior and integrate nature into the educational environment.
The school is entirely constructed of wood, except for the area touching the ground. The wooden construction remains visible. Students benefit from a pleasant atmosphere. The renewable, regional building materials dramatically reduce the “gray” energy factor. The school in Unterdorf has been awarded one of the highest scores for a new building in Vorarlberg’s “communal building records”. The extensive green roof compensates for the higher consumption of floor space, providing optimal thermal insulation, protection against overheating in summer, an ideal bee pasture, and a biotope for numerous insects.
The entire building was optimized in terms of energy and building technology, featuring highly thermally insulated components, windows suitable for passive houses with triple insulating glazing, low-temperature heating via floor, ventilation system with heat recovery and air volume control via CO² sensor, free cooling via groundwater probe, night ventilation for cooling in summer. Our school architecture aims to support new forms of teaching and facilitate inclusion.
This pedagogical concept means teaching in small groups, flexible rooms, and varied open spaces, ideally with outdoor references. A working group of teachers, community representatives, and consultants was involved from the very beginning. This close cooperation was an essential factor for the successful and fast realization. This pilot project set a new standard for schools and acted as a multiplier for timber construction in Austria and beyond.