The Albert Schweizer School is located in a residential area in the Wiesbaden district of Mainz-Kostheim, which is largely characterized by the building style of the 1970s.
The new, two-story school building is designed to fit in with the dimensions of the surrounding buildings in the heterogeneous and fragmented city suburb. As a formation, it consists of three buildings angled with respect to one another in a way that creates differentiated open spaces and sightlines. This generates a variety of exterior areas with different characteristics that can be used not only for recreation, but also for sports and in support of the school’s educational concept.
A circumferential pergola that runs around the first floor joins the three compact school buildings and allows the classrooms to be connected directly to the schoolyards. Thanks to the fine wavelike structure of the façade elements, the outline of the prefabricated exposed concrete floors and ceilings are visible, giving the façade its particularly striking appearance. Floor-to-ceiling, perforated metal hangings pick up the wave structure of the façade and recall airy curtains that, through the interplay between translucence and openness, convey a feeling of protection and concentration in the classrooms.
The concept for the all-day school, which was designed as a school for children with learning difficulties, foresees an open-plan room structure on the ground floor, in which all specialized classrooms, the school cafeteria, and an event space maintain a relationship to one another. Floor-level wooden-framed windows and glazing all the way around create a clear connection to the exterior spaces. Across from the entrance, a single-flight staircase leads to the classrooms on the upper floor.
The formwork used for the stairway and in the stairwell once again picks up the wave motif, and in doing so it consolidates the special representative character of the architecture. A skylight located just above the stairway brightens up the interior atrium of the upper floor, and also brings daylight into the central areas of the ground floor. All three school buildings can be accessed from the atrium. Here, short sections of hallway open up into tent-like open spaces – the so-called ‘learning nodes’.
Daylight-controlled skylights brighten up these interior spaces and at the same time enliven the fine texture of the curry-toned acoustic cladding. Circumferential glazing connects the classrooms and smaller separate areas with the learning nodes. Through the use of textile curtains, these can be separated off or opened up visually in a flexible manner. This creates a multi-layered range of possibilities for teachers to adapt the space to their lesson contents, while also allowing students from one cluster to take part in shared learning activities in different constellations.