In 2014 Berlin city senate proposed set of actions to improve the state of elementary school buildings. The public schools in Berlin is the best sign that the city outgrew its own infrastructure. and show the urgency for a capital investment. Many of them are in the sorry conditions, overcrowded, not suitable for the education system and pedagogic approaches and etc.
MEB is the name of the state funded project which aims at building as much as 200 new modular elementary schools all over the city. in the next 20 years. While fulfilling all the bureaucratic requirements the new planned schools are designed as uninspiring series of rooms connected with a 2 m wide corridor and collected in a single white box.
Designed on the playground of Paul-Simmel Elementary school in Templehof, a construction site of one of MEB schools, the proposed school stands as an alternative to the mentioned school prototype. It follows all the requirements that MEB does, modularity, low cost and flexibility. Nevertheless whenever there is a desire for flexibility the architecture that comes out of that is stripped of qualities, or character as some would call it. The flexibility is only another form of austerity.
The school tries to deal with the task by creating a strong raster and proposing several possibilities to combine elements and test them in different contexts and answer different needs. The form is rectangular with intention; it is generic footprint that could fit in any average elementary school site. The construction is a combination of different systems with dominating wooden elements. Exposed wooden construction creates warm atmosphere, and is alternative to the current prefabricated schools building systems.
First, school is divided in three interlocking areas: Classrooms, circulation and free time space. Classrooms are slightly bigger than average in order to answer the needs of teachers and principals, who are stating that the lack of the storage space in classrooms is one of the biggest problems they are facing. Classrooms and circulation space are divided by “the Boxes”, modular units that serve as buffer zone, storage, toilet, and meeting area. It is possible to customize the box with different materials, imprint of classroom numbers etc. Circulation area is straight corridor that connects all the classrooms on the one side and free time spaces on the other. Third part is free time zone that is the main area and is designed to visually connect all the floors and offer different spaces for interaction. The whole area is glazed offering the feeling of being outside and taking most of the sunlight. Group rooms and daycare space is located in semi closed areas that seem like they are hanging in the air. The play of these rooms is visible on façade and it is the main element that creates unexpected spaces all along the free time zone, like amphi-stairs or terraces.