Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Bertha von Suttner Schule, Schwechat, Austria

Exemplary design categories: multi-sensory environment, special needs provision

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
This well-designed school meets the needs of children with a range of physical disabilities and psychological and behavioural disorders. Encased in glass, all rooms are bathed in natural light, yet the design ensures that occupants are undisturbed by traffic noise from the adjacent busy roads and from aircraft approaching Vienna International Airport. On the southern side of the building, classrooms, workshops and staff rooms are accommodated under a sloping roof. This has been engineered to provide an effective buffer against the noise from outside and insulation against the cold in winter. The amount of sunlight entering the building is regulated by sliding panels in this roof. The floor plan in this part of the building is extended by covered patios on both levels. To provide easy wheelchair access, all the classrooms for students with severe physical disabilities are on the ground floor. These rooms open directly into a conservatory where students can relax and play. In the centre of the building is the gymnasium. This large sunken open hall is surrounded on three sides by a tribune on the ground floor. Acoustic panels have been placed in and around the gymnasium to absorb noise. The gym looks out onto a gentle grass embankment. Stairs built into the slope at each side allow this space to be used as a central meeting place, and for drama performances or school parties. The embankment leads up to a school garden where students are encouraged to plant and look after flowers and vegetables. Seven activity rooms are located directly above the gymnasium on the northern side of the building. All floor levels are reached by glass-paned cascade staircases alongside the building’s eastern and western façades. All parts of the building are well lit. Corridors and rooms are illuminated not only by sunlight entering through the vast glass-paned façades, but also from skylights in the roof.

Activity Areas: playground, garden, kitchen, therapy-bath

Project costs: EUR 7,700,000.00

Source: "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011"

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User perspectives (1)

"The move to the new building has had a beneficial impact on students. The atmosphere is much more calm and relaxed. Students appreciate the peaceful environment, to the extent that some are reluctant to leave at the end of the day and want to come in on weekends."
Ingeborg Schramm, headmistress

Images (7)

Drawings (5)

cross section (Registration required)
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Credit: Fasch & Fuchs
floor plan (large) (Registration required)
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Credit: Fasch & Fuchs
floor plan (small) (Registration required)
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Credit: Fasch & Fuchs
floor plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Fasch & Fuchs
site plan (Registration required)
application/pdf
Credit: Fasch & Fuchs