The polygonal structure of the newly developed Marzili primary school has been designed with great sensitivity to make it blend in with the existing, listed school buildings and park that form a historically valuable ensemble in the centre of Bern. The day school, multi-purpose room and library, which all benefit from direct access to the grounds, are located on the ground floor. The entrance halls next to the open passage, linking the city district with the green space, each provide access to the upper storeys – home to the classrooms and the conventional school activities – via independent stairways.
The new development features clusters or «neighbourhoods» comprising four classrooms arranged around their respective access zone. The elongated central zone between the clusters serves as an accessway but can also be used as an open learning space. Enfilade-like doors along the façades create a permeable room structure facilitating freedom of movement and interpersonal encounters throughout the building. The school building meets the Minergie-P eco-standard and has been designed as a hybrid construction. The load-bearing concept using vertical internal concrete cores – which spread out like tree tops on the upper storeys – and the prefabricated elements of the load-bearing wooden structure of the façade allow for great internal flexibility, as all the partition walls have been designed to be non-load-bearing.
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