Baumschlager & Eberle
Neue Landstrasse 29, 6841 Mäder
municipality of Mäder
Number of classrooms:
Economic and ecological building go hand in hand
Mäder is an Austrian village close to the Swiss border. This Voralberger municipality has been extremely ambitious with regard to sustainable development since the 1970s. The municipality has a masterplan which encourages pedestrians and cyclists through a network of routes and paths to the new centre, where a number of cultural facilities are located. The “Eco middle school” also forms part of this project to strengthen the centre, and is close to the municipal function room, the nursery school and the library. In this school, environmental issues and project-based education are part of the educational approach. The design consists of a sports hall and a block of classrooms further to the back. The position of these two blocks creates two differentiated outdoor areas, a public plaza on the street side and the playground with water features at the back. With four stories above ground level, the school building is the tallest building in the municipality, and yet it is in harmony with the scale of the village. Depending on the position of the sun, the building looks different, becomes transparent or reflects the environment.
With their concept, the architects Baumschlager & Eberle showed that the economic use of materials and energy-efficient building can be combined with ambitious architecture and do not require higher building costs. According to the architects, economy and ecology go hand in hand. The glass cube is an extremely compact building in which the ratio between the useable floor area and the building envelope could hardly be better. This not only means building very economically, but heat loss through the outer skin is also kept to a minimum. This results in limited management costs, both in terms of energy costs and in terms of the maintenance costs of the walls and roofs. The façade consists of a wood and glass construction and ventilated glass panels. The project also involved an advisor on eco-biological building, who monitored the energy balance of the materials that were used.
The compact block of classrooms has a surface area of 27 x 27 m. There are seven classrooms on each of the four floors, arranged around a central leisure area. The classrooms are completely glazed, from floor to ceiling, so that they are extremely bright rooms. Daylight can penetrate through the glass elevations into the heart of the building, catching the heat of the sun, so that passive solar gains can be achieved in winter, spring and autumn. The central space on each floor also benefits from daylight through a central light shaft.
A double-skin glass façade is created. The outer floor-to-ceiling high glass panels for the facades are positioned at an angle. There are simple fabric blinds between the two glass walls serving as a sun shield to prevent overheating in summer. This well-ventilated space in-between also serves as a heat buffer to a certain extent. The outer glass panels limit the loss of radiation in winter. The narrow parts of the windows which open are only used for night cooling in summer. A ground heat exchanger was installed. With this underground system of tubes, air is sucked in for ventilation. In this way, the cold outside air is preheated in winter and in summer the system cools the building. The extremely compact construction, well-insulated skin of the building, triple glazing, the ventilation system and the maximum use of daylight all help to reduce the annual energy consumption.
The sports hall is partly lowered and is connected to the school building underground. The solid concrete elements of the sports hall form a good contrast with the glass strip of light at the top which provides maximum daylight. The bicycle racks are on the edge of the playground and the fact that cycling is encouraged is clear from the service station for cyclists next to these bicycle racks. There is a set of keys on chains and it is possible to make use of compressed air if you have a flat tyre.