Open, light-flooded atria and emergency stairwells - these usually inhabit two different worlds, and not just in school construction. In the Swiss town of Suhr, located near Aarau, pool Architekten have now brought the two together. In the four-storey new building for the Vinci primary school, the ground floor accommodates the teachers’ lounge, the administration office, the municipal library and other spaces, while classrooms measuring 70 m² alternate with group and therapy rooms half as large on the upper storeys. These areas are accessed via two intertwined spiral stairway bodies in the atrium. The architects were inspired by the example of the castle stairs in the French château of Chambord. Two open stairways act as the main access; concealed beneath them and housed in exposed concrete, the two emergency staircases are found.
The advantages of the assertive stairway sculpture: apart from the basement, the building does entirely without load-bearing concrete walls, and the spaces surrounding the atrium can, to a certain degree, be flexibly arranged. Here, the only fixed points are the vertical utilities shafts and the lift. The supporting structure of the new building supports this flexibility in that two concentric, supporting rings of prefabricated concrete columns - some positioned in the façade, the others between the atrium and classrooms - bear the ceilings and roof. Ceiling-high windows open between the built-in supports, which are 40 x 75 cm thick. The dividing walls between the classrooms and atrium, like the atrium roof, consist of glass bricks.
Although the robust aesthetics of the atrium are determined by exposed concrete and brick flooring, the surrounding spaces have a homey character. Dark-blue linoleum covers the floors of the classrooms; the municipal library has a wooden floor of rough-sawn ash.