For the Wolfsmatt school complex in Dietikon, which was completed in 1962, a comprehensive renovation is planned along with new building that combines a gymnasium, a multi-purpose room, classrooms, and day nursery. The competition entry by Fischer Architekten, which was awarded third prize, acknowledges the architectural value of the pavilion school by preserving the existing building as far as possible and augmenting it with a structure that differs from it in formal terms but is related to it at a conceptual level.
The Wolfsmatt school complex in Dietikon, close to Zurich city, is a protected building as it represents an architecturally important example of a pavilion-type school dating from the 1960s. By placing the classroom wings axially around the courtyard, creating a composition of outdoor spaces between the ancillary buildings, and with the uniform materiality of the buildings architect Julius Senn created a harmonious overall effect. The interventions proposed are deliberately restrained, the aim being to preserve the ensemble and its urban structure along with the well-designed green space and, where possible, to strengthen them.
As a replacement for the present-day sports hall, the new building combines a triple gymnasium singing room, library, and teachers’ room as well as day nursery and schoolrooms in a complex three-storey volume. The building structure is highly flexible in terms of spatial definition, circulation, and usability and allows space throughout for the integration of new findings about education and new forms of teaching.
Analogous to the existing complex the internal courtyard of the proposed new building also serves as place to gather and a space for breaks from lessons. In contrast to the existing school, where the different functions are accommodated in individual pavilion buildings, in the new building the different functions are stacked; the main address for visitors is the administration area with the entrance foyer, while the number of different entrances indicate the variety of functions housed in the compact building and provide separate access to each area. In both wings of the new building, a cascading covered external staircase leads to the top floor.
In terms of expression and appearance the new building uses construction and design elements found in Julius Senn’s building in accordance with the logic of the structure and the spatial concept. The new and the gently renovated old elements are very similar to each other. Nevertheless, the different colour of the new clinker brickwork allows the basic substance and its extension to be clearly distinguished from each other. In the interior the nature of the construction is directly conveyed by the simple, robust materials.
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