A primary school with vision

Planners from ARGE Tabernig-Zierl architects have come up with an open, transparent and vibrant design for the new Volksschule Schwefel primary school, which has 16 classes, a multipurpose sports hall and playing fields in Hohenems, at the western tip of Austria.

Ceilings with Troldtekt acoustic panels in school buildings
Photo: Christian Flatscher

The Volksschule Schwefel’s new two-storey building, which blends perfectly into the mountainous landscape and neighbouring buildings, boasts a particularly impressive continuous glass facade on the ground floor and a large fenestrated overhang on the top floor. Not only does this make the building look smaller and as if it is almost floating, it also serves as a covering for the outdoor area and to protect the offices and other rooms on the ground floor from excessive sunlight.

Both sports hall and atrium

The multipurpose sports hall is the central element on the ground floor. The hall extends right down to the basement and looks like a large atrium. The auditorium and all of the access areas are positioned around this centre and enhance it with stimulating visual relationships and lighting from above.

Cloakrooms are accessed from the main entrance via the auditorium. Further on, two adjacent staircases provide access to four different learning blocks on the top floor, which are connected by a shared play area and feature classrooms as well as group rooms and open learning environments with quiet areas and withdrawal options. The four wings are clearly structured, identifiable as one unit yet freely accessible to each other. There are no corridors. Instead, the large, open, glazed layout provides vibrant views and visual orientation throughout the entire building.

The roof terrace on the top floor, which complements the educational, inclusion-oriented activity area with valuable space for exercise, quiet areas and learning stations in the open air, is also freely accessible and ideal for inter-class work. Separate up and down staircases help to organise the flow of schoolchildren.

Acoustic panels as a design element

Round overhead lights in various colours and sizes enhance the learning environments while setting a discreetly colourful tone. These include green curtains in the auditorium area as well as multicoloured seats in certain areas and colourful painted lift doors. Light floors – some in wood finish – as well as light furniture and window frames in light wood create a welcoming, relaxed environment and a pleasant ambiance. This is perfectly matched by the Troldtekt acoustic panels installed on the ceilings.