Timber superstructure: Ecole Rudolf Steiner de Genève
Foto: Matthieu Gafsou
In the late eighties, the architect Jean-Jacques Tschumi designed an organic sequence of volumes surrounding an interior court. The result is a vibrant system of spaces, further enlivened by the comings and goings of the pupils and teachers. The alteration work by Localarchitecture ties in with these basic principles: the network of pathways has been extended and the school made fit for the future in constructional and technical terms.
Some of the details of the existing building presented a puzzle, as in the case of the uppermost floor, where concrete pillars rose up against the sky with no discernible purpose. Now they act as supports for a further access gallery level. Localarchitecture sees the additional storey on the one hand as the crowning completion of the building and on the other as mediating between the building and the sky. Accordingly numerous windows open up views in various directions. In addition to these lateral openings, accentuated skylights admit plenty of natural light into the classrooms. Smooth wooden surfaces in the interior make up a polygonal form in which wall and ceiling are merged together. The result is a light-flooded, friendly sense of space that is ideal for a place of learning. Few changes were necessary in structural engineering terms as the existing concrete construction is easily able to bear the load of the new classrooms and access gallery. Apart from the addition of the new topmost level, the foyer has also been given a new look, with the entrance area and gallery now fronted by an unusual facade of glass and wooden branches interwoven in intricate fashion.
The pupils were able to visit the building site several times, and thus follow construction progress on a regular basis. This didactic aspect is to enable the next generation to share in the experience gained from the building project.