PROGRAM: Secondary School and Kindergarten

YEAR: 2019

LOCATION: Courrendlin, Switzerland

CLIENT: Municipalité Mixte de Courrendlin

FLOOR AREA: 3’500sqm

The project proposes two distinct new buildings for the existing school campus. The intent is simple: the proposal breaks down the program into the village’s scale and integrates it into a rural tissue of scattered elemental volumes. The new buildings, placed on either side of the existing school courtyard, enhance its presence and role. The school courtyard is at the same time Courrendlin’s one and only public square: this is the place for manifestations, festivals and gatherings outside school hours and school season. The first building (towards the east) is an actual extension of the existing secondary school. The volume sits on the natural slope creating a split-level ground floor. The split level thus generated is replicated on the first and second floors. What would be a conventional staircase gives its place to an interior architectural promenade, an ascending spiral between plateaus that can be used for various activities by students and teachers. The second building houses the new kindergarten as well as the afterschool activities (Tagesschule). The scale is smaller, the layout simpler, the spaces more intimate. This building is seen as a link between home and school: the kindergarten is the first step towards schooling and the Tagesschule literally replaces home. Thus, the restaurant and afterschool living room are placed on the ground floor while the kindergarten classrooms are gathered on the first floor. Both volumes are conceived in exposed concrete in order to match the village’s mineral aspect. The concrete is cast in place in order to avoid a formal and urban render that would better fit an urban environment rather than a rural, low-tech context. 

*Kindergarten Chats: essay written by Louis Sullivan in 1901; its form: a conversation between teacher and student.