A masterpiece in cocoa brown

The Frastanz-Hofen Education Centre in western Austria, designed by Italian firm Pedevilla Architects, houses several learning facilities under one roof and is a masterful example of sustainable building.

Photo: Gustav Willeit, La Villa in Badia, Italy

With its entirely cocoa-coloured facade and porches, windows, awnings and courtyard of the same colour, the new build in the market town of Frastanz, which cost almost €20 million, is a real architectural gem. The colour, which is replicated on many of the interior walls too, is intended to give the whole building an earthy, mineral-like feel. Awards received include the Austrian State Prize for “Architecture and Sustainability” in 2021, confirming it as a masterful example of sustainable building as well as the successful realisation of an innovative design for education.

Communicative learning environments

Hofen primary school in Frastanz, which was built in the 1950s, fell short of the current standards of modern education some time ago and had undergone some initial renovations back in 2011. Based on a concept developed together with primary and nursery teachers, there is now a shared space for childcare, nursery and primary school that has no equal.

The new building, which comprises four wings with double gabled roofs, blends perfectly into the renovated old building and holds classrooms, childcare rooms and work rooms as well as several music rooms. Individual learning clusters are arranged around the central shared spaces and allow for dialogue and learning exchange within the different facilities.

Light wood as a natural design feature

Natural materials such as light fir, pine and maple wood are used on many of the floors, ceilings and walls to create a cosy, warm atmosphere in the bright interior. The light wood was also used for the frames of the large windows, some of which extend from the floor to the ceiling, and for the staircases and furniture. It provides a highly effective contrast with the white and cocoa-brown lime plaster walls. Using the wood to demarcate the wall from the ceiling also beautifully highlights the gables, which are a characteristic of the rooms in the new build. The light Troldtekt acoustic panels on the ceilings, which feature embedded lighting, are also framed in wood, rounding out the holistically designed interior architecture.