In the centre of the village of Wattwil a new campus that combines two school complexes and a double gymnasium is intended to create a unified space for teaching and learning. A new replacement building for the canton school formed part of the competition. The proposal places both the new school building and the entire campus in a direct relationship to the River Thur, which shapes the character of the landscape.
The aim is that the new replacement building for Wattwil Canton School and the renovation and extension to Toggenburg vocational and adult education centre should create a unified campus with a partly shared infrastructure. The River Thur and its banks form the heart of the complex. Therefore, in terms of scale and positioning the new building is oriented clearly towards the water, while also establishing a spatial relationship to the development along the railway line in the west. In this way it emphasises the game played between the train line and the watercourse that determines the structural character of the place.
The campus, which will also function as a public park, plays an augmenting and connecting role for outdoor space in Wattwil. Pedestrian paths, footbridges, wide flights of steps, and ramps enable school students and the local populace to access and experience the river. Close to the buildings the campus square forms a defined paved area which, as one comes closer to the River Thur, is gradually broken up and transforms into a gravelled route. In the transitional areas the intermediate paved spaces are successively filled with vegetation.
The new building for the Canton School is conceived as a simple, stringent timber construction with a small amount of concrete and a basement that is minimised as far as possible. Above a two-storey plinth that houses the communal and administration functions a simple school building is placed with a double-loaded central corridor and an external balcony layer. This simplicity ensures careful use of resources and limits the amount of technology needed. The central main staircase rises from the foyer that extends through the building, on each floor of the school communal lounges are arranged around it. This vertical spatial figure of spaces for learning and encounters culminates in a large roof terrace.
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