Extension to Cantonal School in Solothurn, Switzerland

To ensure a flexible layout that could be adapted to changing uses, this two-storey, free-standing school extension was executed in a unit construction system, comprising the load-bearing structure, service modules, and floor, partition and façade infill elements. The components of this non-directional geometric system – especially the internal partitions, service networks and connections for fittings and installations – can be combined in a variety of ways. The theoretical basis of the work, explored under the heading “variable intelligent buildings”, extends back over a period of more than 20 years and has been tested in a number of pilot schemes. The load-bearing structure consists of a system of columns and double trusses – a combination of trussed and Vierendeel girders. No distinction is made between intermediate and peripheral beams and columns, so that the building has an unlimited extendability. The trussed girder construction also ensures a high degree of openness for service runs at floor level. The entire electrical and sanitary networks were planned by a computer program specially developed for the layout of mechanical services in adaptable buildings. Service installations within the open load-bearing structure have the advantage that they are accessible at all times for replacement and alterations. The wall elements are assembled on the floors and contain no service runs or connections, so that here, too, there is no obstacle to subsequent conversion work.
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