China, Beijing  

German School and Apartment House


Competition 1998 – 1st Prize
Design Meinhard von Gerkan with Michael Biwer
Partner Klaus Staratzke
Project managers Michael Biwer, Sibylle Kramer
Design team Bettina Groß, Elke Hoffmeister
Construction team Michèle Watenphul, Knut Maass, Ulrich Rösler, Diana Heinrich, Jörn Bohlmann, Rüdiger von Helmolt
Client Bundesrepublik Deutschland, BBR
Construction period 1999–2000
Gross floor area School 9,658 m², Housing 9,657 m²
Volume School 33,534 m³, Housing 30,923 m³



Jan Siefke

Jang Chaoying

School Building
The site is located in the city’s 3rd diplomats district; the much used road Liangmaquiao-Lu and the heterogeneous neighbourhood characterize the surrounding area. The concept of a self-orientated building complex was developed from this situation, with strong spatial edges dividing the site in clearly defined open spaces. An interplay of open spaces, delimitation and openings is created, repeating the Chinese tradition of the grouping of building structures.

The ensemble is formed by a horizontally emphasized school building and a contrasting vertical residential complex. Both buildings are ordered by division into layers, which as superior structural characteristic generate an overall continuity. At the school building, two three-storeyed building bars flank the central layer with special uses.

Foyer, great hall and sports hall are allocated in an additive sequence. Mobile partition walls create a flexible and generous spatial continuum. In this area other than school events can take place.

Parquet flooring and wooden wall cladding contrast the central building layer with special uses with the teaching areas, where white walls and ceilings are contrasted with red floor surfaces. Fitted elements such as doors, framings and cupboards are produced from aubergine coloured concrete panels which usually serve as shuttering boards of in-situ concrete constructions.

A clear, super-ordinate orientation in the building is provided by the order of the building units as well as the separation of materials according to functions. On the upper levels classroom wings integrate landscaped roof terraces, which enlarge the open space of the school. Protected from the noise and emissions of the much used road, this open space is suitable for open air classed, leisure use and as reading garden – a green enclave in the city.

Apartment House
The entrance hall of the residential building is orientated towards the main road. An open glass hall connects two parallel, nine-storeyed building bars. The access of the apartments is provided from the weather protected entrance hall via detached staircases and lifts. In total the building contains 45 apartments orientated towards the east – four or six units per level with five different apartment types between 65 and 210 m² floor area.

The living space can be increased with winter gardens. Division and materials for façade and interior follow the considerations made for the school building. Consequently the colour concept of the imperial red and yellow colours is repeated in the residential block. The school building with its red façade from pre-fabricated concrete elements and red floorings in the interior is thus contrasted from the residential block with its yellow pre-fabricated concrete façade elements as well as yellow floorings.