The Isengrind quarter in Zurich Affoltern thrives on the typological and design principles of urban and residential construction of the late 1960s and 1970s. The new design works with the “height play” and develops a compact 25 metre-high solitary building that serves as a new centre for the quarter providing the necessary transparency and accessibility of a modern school.
The building combines three programmatic focal points, two of which can be clearly seen from the outside: a semi-public area that can be used by the school community on the lower floors, and classrooms on the upper levels. A two-story gym with a spectator gallery as the third unit is structurally independent.
In their formal design, two staircases act as the centrepieces of the school and follow the flowing motif of movement of the outside space, creating a scenographic sequence of spaces.
The dynamic, lively use of space on the lower floors is consciously articulated in the facade. The massive V-shaped pillars covey the transparency that formally underlines the openness of the lower floors and encourages the users to engage with the space. The surrounding balconies made of light steel act as sun protection and support the external textile sun blinds.
The open space design is based on development specifics of the 60s: exploring the idea of a shared, flowing landscape, the proposal creates soft outdoor spaces that provide for optimal spatial relationships between the new building and the existing primary school, and brings the entire space together as an ensemble. The amount of greenery in outdoor spaces strengthens the landscape with large-crowned trees and therefore enhances the planting for the entire district, which is valuable in terms of urban climate.