Just because these Stuttgart classrooms make the most of light, colour and ‘the way children walk’ doesn’t mean they can’t break a few rules …
When it came to designing a combined primary and secondary school in Stuttgart, local architect Aldinger & Aldinger was more than happy to dispense with its sleek modern style and return to nature in what senior partner Jörg Aldinger calls ”an adventure into organic design methods”.
This wasn’t a pure whim. The school is located in the suburb of Waldorf, where anthropologist Rudolf Steiner established his first residential community in harmony with nature in the twenties. It replaces the community’s original school, which had been converted.
However, the architect didn’t want to replicate Steiner’s style, which looks, in Aldinger’s words, “as if it grew out of the earth”.
“We wanted to know how the movement of children could be translated into a choreography of spaces and built forms,” he says. “We looked closely at how children walk, how light comes into a building and how colours change with the seasons.”
The resulting building is a concoction of irregular forms and spaces that flow into each other. Large irregular windows, many of them wrapped around corners, bring in daylight and views out to the surrounding woodland.
The external walls are clad in larch battens, and these are also given an organic twist. On some surfaces, two layers of battens criss-cross at varying angles. “It makes a dynamic facade that is always changing in the light,” says Aldinger.
“The pupils like the building very much,” he adds. “But some of the teachers criticised us for breaking the severe Steiner rules of building design. They wanted the building to be solidly rooted in the ground, and we turned it upside down with rooms that cantilevered outwards, like branches of a tree” – a mark of disobedience that will surely add to the pupils’ enjoyment of the building.
Client the Waldorf Foundation
Architect Aldinger & Aldinger structural
Engineer Knippers Helbig
Services engineer PKI landscape