The old gym belonging to Landshut’s Ursulinenrealschule no longer met functional or safety requirements; after 50 years, it was in urgent need of refurbishment work. Therefore, the Archiepiscopal Bishopric of Munich announced a design competition and awarded first place to Hirner & Riehl
in 2009. The old idea of tearing down the old school in order to replace it was rejected. Instead, a plot of land formerly used as a parking lot near the school was selected for a new building. Between the Isar and the Ursulinenrealschule, the new double-wide gymnasium was constructed over two years. Since 2014, not only schoolchildren have profited from the new gym. Thanks to a fold-out stage, the building offers additional space for events with about 800 visitors. The building fits discreetly into its urban environment: historical monument protection rules dictate a maximum height of ten metres. The gym’s rust-red exterior takes up the colour of the surrounding brick structures. In order to preserve the old town’s small-scale architecture, the gym comprises two wings. A link houses the stairway and connects the two areas, which are of two different sizes. The larger of these is home to the double gym with its fold-out stage and equipment room. Dressing rooms, a kitchen and basement planned as a weight room and extra storage are accommodated in the smaller wing. A unique characteristic of this building is the inclined eaves line, which gives a nod to the battlements and towers of the old city wall. The lines of the neighbouring structures are continued. Around the gym, narrow lanes have been created which lead to generous, pleasant squares, thus enhancing the area. Between the city wall and the gymnasium complex, an attractive, green, sheltered open area invites visitors to stay a while. Another place for events has been created in front of the historical Rochus Chapel. As a »fifth façade« the roof takes on especial significance. Small, offset roof surfaces mark the inclined façade, affording the taller surrounding buildings an exclusive view over the designerly roofscape. The red-pigmented exposed concrete reminds visitors of the town’s medieval fortifications. The joint grid of the prefab concrete panels echoes that of the city wall. Copper-coated stainless-steel sheeting covers the unusual roof. Inside, the contrast of exposed concrete and wood creates a welcoming atmosphere that will allow about 50 different school classes to enjoy themselves here. In the middle of Landshut’s old town, Hirner & Riehl Architekten have realized a complex that fits respectfully among its neighbouring structures, continues existing pathways and lays the foundations for new spatial references. As a suitable building block in the urban landscape, this gymnasium is an eye-catcher not only by day, but by night as well.