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Waldorfschule El Til·ler, Eduard Balcells, Ignasi Rius Arquitectura, Tigges Architekt

More than a Mere Façade: The El Til·ler Waldorf School near Barcelona

Eduard Balcells, Ignasi Rius Arquitectura and Tigges Architekt have adapted the Waldorf school known as El Til•ler − the linden − to its topography and the external characteristics of its building site. The school ensemble, which stands in the Spanish suburb of Bellaterra near Barcelona, is accessed from the north and develops around a main road that leads to a communal plaza to the south with a view of its natural surroundings. Five existing buildings have been repositioned around the central rambla; they are home to the elementary and secondary school levels. 

The northeasternmost new building accommodates the kindergarten of the El Til•ler Waldorf School. The architects designed this structure as a rectangular block with prefabricated façade elements. The pinewood modules surround air chambers and, on the outside of the building, take on the look of frames into which the windows have been set. Because of the local topography, the upper storey on the rear longitudinal façade is reached via bridges. In contrast, the lower level opens directly onto the main road on the west-facing side just opposite the kindergarten.

Inside, the wooden façade becomes a space-determining element. The trio of architects integrated the load-bearing concrete columns into the external walls, thus creating support-free spaces. Niches are created between these columns; they not only structure the kindergarten, but are also used as glazed seating areas with a view of the green, quiet retreats or storage areas. Concrete ceilings function as heat storage and, along with the façades, sunshades and cross-ventilation, regulate the indoor climate. These measures make complicated technology unnecessary. 

Warm wood characterizes both the exterior views and the interior spaces of the El Til•ler Waldorf School. It covers walls, built-ins and floors to create a cosy ambience. The design of the kindergarten is complemented with sleek white and light-grey exposed concrete.

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