Elementary school of Unterdorf / Dietrich | Untertrifaller Architekten
Text description provided by the architects. Primary school provides an ideal educational institution for modern pedagogical approaches. It is an uncompromising example of a cluster design offering a flexible and engaging learning environment. In an elegant one-storey wooden structure, four identical educational centers revolve around a brightly-lit living room with a raised roof. The flat building blends harmoniously into the environment of single-family homes. The schoolyard in front of the auditorium is connected to the Unterdorf path network. Local residents can use parts of the outdoor areas and sports facilities.
Playful learning in small groups characterizes the pedagogical concept. In each cluster, two classrooms, a multipurpose room, a cloakroom with sanitary facilities and a relaxation area surround a central lounge. Spatial diversity and transparency translate into a varied and flexible learning environment. Special classes and administration are linked to the lowered gymnasium by a spacious auditorium. Removable walls can isolate the auditorium from the school zone, providing space for outdoor events such as lectures, readings, etc. with a maximum of 120 people. Separate access to the gymnasium allows local sports clubs to use it outside of school hours.
The central living room with its high pyramid-shaped ceiling and large skylight, allows natural light to enter the room, providing an airy and dramatic space. The visual axes are a constant invitation to use the middle space, reinforcing the sense of community within the cluster. Large glazing ensures transparency and allows teachers to always keep an eye on the students during their activities. Private gardens and outdoor classrooms with direct access from each cluster blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor and integrate nature into the educational environment.
The school is built entirely of wood, with the exception of the area touching the ground. The wooden construction remains visible. The students enjoy a pleasant atmosphere. Regional and renewable building materials significantly reduce the “gray” energy factor. The Unterdorf school obtained one of the highest marks for a new building in the Vorarlberg “municipal building register”. The extensive green roof compensates for the higher consumption of floor space, providing optimum thermal insulation, protection against overheating in summer, an ideal pasture for bees and a habitat for many insects.
The entire building has been optimized in terms of energy and building technology, with highly thermally insulated components, windows suitable for passive houses with triple insulating glazing, low temperature underfloor heating, a ventilation system with heat recovery and air flow control by CO² sensor, free cooling by underground water probe, night ventilation for cooling in summer. Our school architecture aims to support new forms of teaching and facilitate inclusion.
This educational concept translates into teaching in small groups, modular rooms and various open spaces, ideally with external references. A working group made up of teachers, community representatives and consultants was involved from the start. This close cooperation has been an essential factor for a successful and rapid realization. This pilot project set a new standard for schools and acted as a multiplier for timber construction in Austria and beyond.