02/11/2017: Learning in dialog with old and new

gmp completes the school building of the Cultural and Educational Centre in Alsdorf

VOF negotiation procedure 2011
Design Volkwin Marg and Nikolaus Goetze with Marc Ziemons
Project management, overall design
Carsten Plog
Project management, project design
Michael Gutena
Competition design team Jan Blasko, Matthias Heck, Mei Pan, Alexandra Schinke, Oliver König, Urs Wedekind, Karsten Schillings
Detail design team Matthias von Hanstein, Matthias Heck, Alexandra Schinke, Alexander Schnieber, Kathrin Schnieber, Karl-Heinz Behrendt, Urs Wedekind, Adrian Fuhrich, Raimund Kinski, Volker Bastian, Daniel O’Hare
Structural design Wetzel & von Seht
Services installations Phases 2-7, ZWP Ingenieur AG
Services installations Phases 8-9, TGA Stickel services engineers
Fire protection T. Wackermann GbR consulting engineers
Lighting design a.g. licht GbR
Landscape design WES & Partner GmbH
Site supervision Höhler + Partner GmbH
Project control Ernst & Young Real Estate GmbH
Client GSG Grund- und Stadtentwicklung Alsdorf GmbH
GFA New building 16,482 m², of which 13,567 m² above ground and 2,915 m² below ground

The school building of the new Cultural and Educational Centre in Alsdorf has been completed to designs by architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp). The building consists of two mirrored horseshoe-shaped tracts, and combines a grammar school and a secondary school under one roof. The new building reflects a dialog with the historic power station and functions as a new cultural focus between the inner city and neighboring residential quarter.

The architectural concept links the two schools in one formal unit: two U-shaped tracts are laid out facing each other, creating differentiated interior areas. Also integrated at a lower level are three single-court gymnasiums and their ancillary functions. They are covered by walk-on roof areas which serve as integrated recreation areas. From an urban design point of view, a public passageway through the school building creates a visual and functional axis that strengthens the socio-cultural exchange between grammar school, secondary school, and the neighboring residential quarter. The two school tracts are accessed via their own entrance foyers in order to foster the students’ identification with their own institution.
The horizontal emphasis of the buildings is expressed in the design of the facades. Surface-mounted bright fenestration bands provide a structure to the dark, solid building fabric. With the help of the compact design and a number of energy conservation measures, such as the omission of cooling systems, the installation of pellet heating systems, LED lighting throughout, roof greening, and solar energy harnessing, the requirements of the Energy Conservation Ordinance (EnEV) were improved on by 30 percent.

The grammar school curriculum has been devised in accordance with the “Dalton Plan of Education”. This educational plan sees the school as a place for learning as well as for gaining life experience, and the architectural concept reflects this approach; a high degree of flexibility within the building supports the idea of teaching in shared units and of supporting individual groups. Independent working and learning is promoted in open self-learning zones, the responsibility for the design of which lies with the students. Seating niches at regular intervals in the corridors provide space for spontaneous get-togethers, both for personal exchanges and for working in small groups. Generous views of the exterior landscape and a high degree of natural lighting support the principle of free learning and the overarching educational concept. This guiding principle is further enhanced by the omission of fencing; instead, partial linear planting provides orientation and a structure to the overall ensemble.

The rooms are clearly arranged, and their functions can be modified to suit personal requirements. The upper floors contain 32 learning rooms and six specialist rooms for chemistry, physics, and biology. The first and mezzanine floors provide space for the administration, as well as three art rooms and two music rooms. The arrangement of the secondary school tract largely reflects that of the grammar school. Owing to the different learning approach, the upper floors contain a total of 18 classrooms and rooms for media and specialist subjects.

Marcus Bredt

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