Sonnenberg school complex, Thalwil

Schulanlage Sonnenberg, Thalwil, Fischer Architekten AG Zürich

The new extension to Sonnenberg school complex in Thalwil is based on a strictly rectilinear system that forms the basic structure for the four main rooms and an internal space. In choosing the materials for this essentially dual spatial system both the building itself and the existing context were examined closely. This competition entry was awarded first prize.

Sonnenberg school complex in the municipality of Thalwil on Lake Zurich is made up of several units that are embedded in a residential district and have protected outdoor areas. The complex was designed in 1975 by Zurich architect Hans Zangger.

A new building is to be added to the ensemble of the existing school units. With its clear and simple organisation, it fits well into the complex as a whole. In conceptual terms the principle on which the stepped existing building is based is continued. The main entrance, which faces towards the existing central, courtyard-like circulation space, forms a clear address.

The depth of the building allows the classrooms to be placed in the corners, which means that corridor access can be avoided. An open area is created, a cross-shaped internal space that extends from between the classrooms to the facade and is impressively transparent and permeable. The changing position of the sun during the day produces different moods of light, creating a pleasant atmosphere in which it is most enjoyable to spend time.

The “soft” surface of vertical cedar cladding on the exterior contrasts with front-hung concrete elements that trace the internal spatial structure, while at the same time referring visually to the existing concrete buildings.

Rudishaldenstrasse 5c, 8800 Thalwil, Switzerland
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Task New extension to the primary school with four classrooms and three day-care rooms
Job type Total service competition
Mention 1st prize
Deliverables Project, tender, implementation project
Time period 2015–2018
Challenge Continuing and developing the existing architectural qualities, dialogue with existing school complex