Raise the curtain: Montessori school in Neuötting
Client: Montessori-Verein Unterneukirchen e.V.
Architects: ARGE studio lot & MW-Architekten
Location: Badstraße 3, 84524 Neuötting (DE)
Not only architects and interior architects worked on the project together; teachers and other school employees were also involved in the design process in the effort to create a harmonious and functional learning environment particularly suited to children.
The single-storey school building is organised around a spacious schoolyard, thus literally framing activities in the secluded central space and screening it off from the road and buildings in the surroundings. The assembly hall on the southern wing does double-duty as the entrance hall. This leads off on the right to the lower-lying sports hall, where floor-to-ceiling windows provide views onto the schoolyard. On the left a corridor passes the kitchen and administrative offices and staff rooms in the south-western corner to continue alongside the classrooms in the western wing.
Each classroom not only has views onto the schoolyard but is also connected to a garden space of its own with a partially covered area that can be divided off from the respective classroom by a grey, translucent outdoor curtain in monofilament yarn. Space-structuring outdoor furniture and varied plantings are the defining features of the school gardens, as in the rest of the schoolyard.
The far side of the corridor running past the classrooms opens up to form large niches that alternate with closed-off specialist rooms. These are coloured in complementary blue, red and green hues and thanks to built-in furniture can be used as tea kitchens or for informal learning.
On the northern wing the corridor runs along the schoolyard side of the building, thus providing rooms for art, crafts, music and natural sciences with consistent northern-facing light. The eastern wing repeats the system of classrooms – each one measuring 74 square metres – with the corridor coming to an end at the spectator gallery in the sports hall, thus closing the circle, so to speak.
A separately-run kindergarten for 50 children is located right next to the school, thus providing it a green outdoor space of its own. Its broad corridor features play niches and fitted furniture in a logical but smaller-scale continuation of the interior layout concept for the schoolhouse.
In choosing the building materials, the architects and interior architects attached particular importance to indigenous and ecological products. Solid, white-stained spruce on the walls alternates with gypsum fibreboard panels, while the custom-designed fitted furniture was built in spruce triple-layer sandwich panels and coloured laminate. The lighting units play a fairly unassuming role throughout most of the building, only making more of a statement in the assembly hall, where they take on the form of black-and-white enamel work lamps suspended from a grid of black profiles. Time for a curtain call indeed!