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Around 1,000 pupils at the Schmuttertal Gymnasium learn according to innovative concepts in a healthy, meaningful environment. In a construction period of only two years, a plus-energy timber school building was created as part of a research project of the German Federal Foundation for the Environment, which breaks new ground: open learning landscapes that can be used in a variety of ways enable individual learning and teaching. The architecture not only meets the latest pedagogical requirements, but also the strictest ecological building standards.

Arge Hermann Kaufmann + Partner ZT GmbH und Florian Nagler Architekten GmbH
County of Augsburg
Diedorf, Germany
  • Lignosil-Verano
  • Lignosil-Inco

Pedagogically effective architecture

Sustainable timber school construction for independent and social learning.

The Schmuttertal-Gymnasium (grammar school) in Diedorf, eight kilometres in the west of the Bavarian city of Augsburg (Germany), is a model school, a nationwide unique lighthouse project. Around 1,000 students learn here according to innovative concepts in a healthy, meaningful environment. Open learning landscapes with a variety of usable spaces enable individual learning and teaching, and thanks to the modular wooden construction, the school family can also react flexibly to educational developments in the future. The architecture not only meets the latest pedagogical but also the strictest building ecological standards and also produces energy beyond its own needs. And all with the highest design quality.

On the green meadow

In a landscape conservation area, directly on the course of the river Schmutter, the barn-like buildings with their light-grey wooden facades and slightly sloping gable roofs blend harmoniously into the topography. The integration of the large building volume was an exciting challenge for the architects Hermann Kaufmann and Florian Nagler, who worked as a consortium.

"Our intention was originally to distribute the room programme over six buildings," says architect Florian Nagler. "But considerations of economic efficiency and energy efficiency ultimately led us to the current complex."

The ensemble consists of four similar, compact buildings grouped around a rectangular courtyard - two three-storey teaching wings, a triple sports hall and a two-storey entrance building with a school hall, canteen, administration and library. Space and structure form a unity, the visible wooden structure characterises the interior.

For optimal use of daylight, light is directed into the relatively deep building structure, transparent partition walls and daylight systems support the distribution of light.

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Landscapes of learning

The pedagogical concept co-developed by the school family calls for five classes at a time to form a cluster, sharing four traditional classrooms and a shared so-called "marketplace." These open areas are "enabling spaces" equipped with freely accessible learning materials and PC workstations that can be freely used by students and teachers to try out alternative forms of teaching, teamwork and self-responsible methods of learning.

There are two of these clusters per upper floor, which are accessed by a ring-shaped hallway and two staircases at the respective ends of the building. Spacious walls with various functions such as storage space, drinking fountains or building services separate them from the centre. The lit areas of the first floors house the specialist rooms for science, art and music. Here, too, there are common "marketplaces" that can be used across subjects.

The classic separation of the display object collection according to subject areas was abandoned; the exhibits are presented in an overall show in which the overlapping of subject areas can be better represented.

An integrative open space planning with differentiated, partially covered courtyards, green classrooms and ecological teaching gardens transfers the innovative pedagogical architecture of the interior to the outdoor space.

Healthy learning spaces

The exemplary spatial solutions were developed and optimised according to strict economic and ecological criteria. The extensive use of wood in particular creates a learning and room climate that sets standards. "The impression of wood is perceived as positive, especially by children. The building material can be shaped well, it smells good, results in an atmosphere that can be experienced and felt. Climate and comfort can be rated as extraordinarily good," says Frank Schwindling, district master builder and head of the Building Division at the Augsburg District Office.

In a wooden building, wood protection is of course an issue that has to be solved constructively, but also through coating. The wooden facade of the Schmuttertal Grammar School was coated in light grey on the outside with the silicate greying glaze KEIM Lignosil-Verano and inside with KEIM Lignosil-Inco glaze in white. The decisive factors for this choice were, on the one hand, the general health safety of the absolutely emission-free paint application, which also withstands the strictest building biology requirements. On the other hand, the mineral-matt, colour-stable appearance and, last but not least, the convincing economic efficiency. Another advantage for the environment: The ecological mineral paints are produced in the neighbourhood, in the Diedorf-based company Keimfarben - which means regional production and shortest transport routes.

"The impression of wood is perceived as positive, especially by children. The building material can be shaped well, it smells good, creates a pleasant atmosphere. Climate and comfort can be rated as extraordinarily good."

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