Henri Dunant School Frankfurt

Execution: 2018 - 2021 Construction Costs: ca. 12.0 Mio € Location: Frankfurt-Sossenheim Client: Town of Frankfurt Photography: Marcus Ebener

On an existing school campus in Frankfurt, we constructed a new building for the Henri Dunant Elementary School, which, beyond its classical functions, offers attractive spaces for extracurricular learning and leisure activities.
To replace two dilapidated school buildings on the shared campus of the Edith Stein Secondary School and Henri Dunant Elementary School, the Frankfurt Office for Building and Real Estate had a new building constructed for the latter. This new building expands on the functions and offerings of the previous buildings and simultaneously enriches the range of available schools in the western part of the city as part of a large-scale renovation and investment initiative. In addition to the room schedule for an elementary school with four parallel classes per grade and two additional classes for preschool and integration, consideration was also given to the space requirements for extracurricular learning and leisure activities. At the same time, the building provides a high-quality environment through modern interior spaces, redesigned break areas and a nature-inspired, park-like surrounding.

“School as a living environment” – that was the guiding principle of the construction task we faced. Located on an existing school campus in Frankfurt’s western district of Sossenheim, the new building, together with the existing buildings of a secondary school, a sports hall and a cafeteria, forms a newly defined ensemble. The aim was for the new school building to harmonise with the existing structures in terms of its urban positioning and also generate new, high-quality open spaces.

Sophisticated positioning and enhancement of the surrounding outdoor space
The basic idea was to place the building on the edge of an existing slope and utilise the topography. The special positioning of the double-angled, elongated building on the campus creates new outdoor situations. On the west side, the elementary school, together with the sports hall and cafeteria now encloses the “urban schoolyard”, which features tree planting, seating areas and street markings for traffic education. From here, the elementary school building, which is two storeys high on the west side, is centrally accessed. To the east, on the other hand, the sloping site allows the insertion of another garden level, which opens onto a park-like outdoor area with lush vegetation and integrated sports and play equipment. At this point, a long ramp system ensures barrier-free access, which is provided throughout the entire site.

Clear structuring with numerous functions
The garden level primarily accommodates rooms for all-day or afternoon care and also houses the technical rooms. The similarly structured ground and upper floors are home to the “Learning Houses”, each with two school clusters and designed according to modern pedagogical approaches. Each cluster comprises four classrooms and two special-purpose rooms, which are grouped around a common central area, the so-called living room or play corridor, and are always visually connected to the communal areas through glazed wall sections. We also placed importance on integrating a central, open foyer at the main entrance, which officially serves as a circulation and access area between the two school floors but can be transformed into a meeting place as needed; it also compensate for the auditorium that is missing due to the given room schedule. In addition, the ground floor accommodates the school administration, multifunctional rooms and areas for special classes. On the first floor, a library complements the room schedule.

Colourful exterior, variably usable interior backdrop
The user-orientated design approach is also reflected in the choice of materials and furnishings for the school building. The exterior is dominated by the play of colours of the brick-clad wall areas and red façade panels between timber-aluminium windows, which horizontally structure the front sides as long ribbon windows. The central, two-storey foyer extends through to the garden side and ends in generous glazing with a brise soleil made of white prefabricated concrete elements. Inside, the building presents itself as a variably usable and neutral backdrop in fair-faced concrete and oak wood. Among other things, the wide staircase in the foyer with its wood-clad seating steps and the spacious central zones of the learning clusters invite pupils to spend time here in a variety of ways.

Durability and high technical standards
When selecting the materials, we placed particular emphasis on durable and hard-wearing properties in the interests of sustainable building utilisation. Components are largely joined and not glued to ensure that they can be dismantled and reused. The design of the building envelope and the energy consumption of the building technology used for ventilation and lighting meet the passive house standard. For reasons of efficiency and available capacities, the school was connected to the existing heating plant on the school campus. During the day, a ventilation system with heat recovery provides the necessary supply of fresh air, while at night, if necessary, natural ventilation can take place via night ventilation flaps to cool the thermal storage masses. The roof is fully greened and equipped with a photovoltaic system for electricity generation.