05 July 2010

Scharoun's primary school in Darmstadt

A recent research together with Luca Ferrario involved the making of the sectioned model of Hans Scharoun’s design for the primary school in Darmstadt; we post some pictures and a small summary of the work.

Model looking north

The project stands as one of the main references of scholastic architecture in the XX Century: Hans Scharoun designed it in 1951 in occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Darmstädter Gespräche, round-tables between artists and architects in the German city of Darmstadt, organized by the artist’s community of the Mathildenhöhe. In 1951 the theme was “Mensch und Raum”, people and space, and there Martin Heidegger presented its well-known “Bauen, Wohnen, Denken” (Building, dwelling, thinking). Starting with analysis of different school-layouts throughout Europe, their dimensions, square meters per student, percentage of green space, Scharoun developed his design, with an eye on Hugo Häring’s theories about organicism, and another on the needs of a small child, from the lower, through the medium, to the higher grade.

View just after the entrance

Classes are divided into three grades and connected with a common area, sometimes corridor, sometimes inner courtyard, called “Weg der Begegnung”, the meeting-way. Main hall, sport hall, secretariat, library and laboratories are functions connected with the school.

Looking south-west

At the entrance of each group of classes you find always wardrobe, and toilets on the first floor. The lower grade responds to the need of protection, the nest-principle: so the classes (that Scharoun names “Schulschaften”, school-communities) are facing south and their exposure to the exterior green playground is not so open; children can play inside the class in different groups or can follow a lesson altogether. The middle one faces east and west and there is a more generous opening towards the green. In the final grade, as students are more mature, north light is privileged in order to stay better concentrated on the study, and a small auditorium lets all the four classes share their work.

6 classes of the lower grade

6 classes of the intermediate grade on the right (3 + 3), sport hall on the left

4 classes of the higher grade, observatory on the left, close to the river

Scharoun’s principles were later translated in reality with the schools he designed in Lünen (girl’s gymnasium, 1956) and Marl (ground-school, 1960).

More pics here.