Freilager school complex, Zurich

Schulanlage Freilager, Zürich, Fischer Architekten AG Zürich

The proposed project for a new school for the Zurich districts of Albisrieden and Altstetten creates a public place where pupils of the school and the residents of the nearby centre for the elderly can meet in a relaxed and casual way. The transparent building is divided horizontally into a concrete plinth, which contains the sports halls, and a four-storey timber building that sits on top of it. External struts give the school building an unmistakeable identity.

The site in Zürich Albisrieden stands on a joint between a compact and a very green part of the city. Different settlement structures with their equally different urban design patterns meet here. In terms of position and orientation the proposal for the school complex focuses consistently on Bachwiesen centre for the elderly. This creates a coherent building complex whose parts complement each other spatially, sociologically, and functionally. The place of arrival allows the togetherness of different generations that is aimed for as they can meet casually on the forecourt. The compact building has a minimal footprint which allows a park of maximum size to be made.

The transparent, strictly structured building facilitates a flexible spatial concept. Apart from the two- storey entrance and the exposed structure above the top floor, all the storeys have the same basic structure. A cascading stair in the central meeting zone forms a spatial connection. All communal functions are located on the ground floor. Cafeteria, multi-purpose room and library have a direct visual connection to the schoolyard.

To minimise the storey height of the double gymnasium the structure of the hall, which is a folded plate made of triangles formed from hybrid wood-steel beams, was placed on the roof. The beams span transversely over the building and rest on timber columns on the external facade. Resembling a Vierendeel girder, the hybrid beams have steel upper and lower chords, infilled with large cross laminated timber (CLT) panels. The school building on top of the gym hall is braced by external struts whose diamond-shaped pattern give the building its characteristic identity.

The building envelope meets Minergie-P-ECO standard. To allow solar gains in winter, roller blinds that provide only partial shade are fitted in the parapet area. Power is produced by photovoltaic plant on selected inclined roofs.

Flurstrasse 130, 8047 Zurich, Switzerland
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Task New school complex building with 18 classrooms
Job type Competition, open procedure
Time period 2015–2016
Challenge Integration of the new school complex among different urban development patterns and green urban areas