The Unterdorf elementary school in Höchst provides an ideal educational facility for modern pedagogic approaches. It is an uncompromising example of cluster design offering a flexible and nurturing learning environment. In an elegant, linear, one-story wooden structure, four identical teaching clusters are placed on the east side. The heart of each cluster is a top-lighted lounge with a raised roof.
Playful learning in small groups characterizes the pedagogical concept.
Therefore each group gets their own “house” on the east side of the building. In each of the four clusters, two classrooms, a multi-purpose room, a cloakroom with bathrooms and a relaxation area surround a central lounge.
Spatial diversity and transparency result in a varied, flexible learning environment. Opposite, on the west side, the special classes and the administration are located, connected to the lowered gymnasium by a spacious auditorium.
Moveable walls can isolate the auditorium from the school area, offering room for external events such as lectures, readings etc. with a maximum of 120 persons.
The separate access of the gymnasium enables local sport clubs to use it outside school hours.
The school – 100 meters long, 40 meters wide and 4.50 meters high – is constructed entirely of wood, except for the concreted area touching the ground.
The unclad wooden construction, made of multi-layered, glued solid wood panels, remains visible in all rooms. Students benefit from a pleasant, warm atmosphere in the building, which at the same time saves heating costs.
The renewable, regional building materials dramatically reduce the “gray” energy factor. With 940 points, the school in Unterdorf has been awarded one of the highest scores for a new building in Vorarlberg’s “communal building records”.
The extensively greened flat roof compensates for the higher consumption of floor space.
This not only provides optimum thermal insulation and protection against overheating in summer, but is also an ideal bee pasture and an untouchable, living biotope for numerous insects.
The entire school building was optimized in terms of energy and building technology. The features: highly thermally insulated components, windows suitable for passive houses with triple insulating glazing, low-temperature heating via floor, ventilation system with heat recovery and air volume control via CO² sensor, free cooling via groundwater probe, night ventilation for cooling in summer.
The heating energy requirement is 16 kWh/m²a..