Wellbeing of People in Focus
The thought underpinning the architectural concept was that the building complex should create a unified composition expressing the spirit and unity of the school.
The school of encounters
The German School of Budapest is the “school of encounters”, a meeting place for German and Hungarian pupils, teachers and parents. The pupils are taught to be open-minded, to understand and accept the two cultures, as well as to become tolerant, receptive people who can find their place in Europe. Accordingly, transparency, democracy and traceability typify the decisions of the institution.
The school functions so successfully that demand arose for a further extension of the building complex. The competition for the extension invited opinions from the entire school community besides a professional jury. The outcome of this transparent community decision was to commission Bánáti + Hartvig Architects, the designers of the existing main building, with designing the new wing as well.
The school’s approach focusing on the wellbeing of people is shared by the architects. Consequently, the designers’ work focused on conceiving a building which contributes to the school’s efforts to that end. The building itself supports the commitment to the children’s free development and fully meets the expectations of 21st-century education.
Additional symbolic content
The school stands on a topographically distinctive, densely wooded site with different levels. The existing main building and the connecting new wing adapt to the steep edge of the plot in the shape of a segment of a circle. This spatial arrangement, which in any event was justified by the topography, imparts additional symbolic content to the building. The new wing of the school together with the existing structure forms a sundial. The face of the dial divided into twelve hours refers to the twelve years of schooling. The passage of time and the advancing shadow symbolise the years spent in school. This is accompanied by actual movement in space as the pupils proceed from one classroom to another as the years pass until they reach the final year.
Dialogue of old and new
The uniform appearance of the structures built at different times also supports the consistency of the building complex. The new wing follows the structure and characteristic solutions of the already standing buildings (the listed neoclassical hunting lodge and the main building constructed in 2001) in the shaping of its forms and in its construction principles. However, in the use of materials and the design of details, it departs from the old with subtle references, clearly indicating the temporal dimension of the process. While the natural wood covering of the façade of the existing main building is particularly important, the new wing was given an elegant fibre cement panel exterior, also complying with fire protection and maintenance considerations. In the design of the interior spaces, apart from the use of natural materials, special emphasis was placed on colourful surfaces and playful solutions.
The dining hall was located so that it opens onto the schoolyard. This positioning reinvigorates life in the yard. A café and restaurant connects with the terrace, allowing different kinds of events to be organised at a high standard. The number of parking spaces at the school has also been increased to facilitate easier and safer access.
Green design process
In the design process, the principle of creating a building which respects the environment played a significant role. The German School of Budapest is no stranger to the green approach as this was applied in the main building as well. Grey water is used in the entire building. Specially designed tanks collect rainwater, which, after filtering and sterilisation, is piped in a separate system from the drinking water for use in flushing toilets.
The low-angled roof of the roughly north-south oriented new wing is ideal for locating solar panels. The positions of the solar panels complement the forms of the curved building and follow the dividing ribs of the batten-seam metal roofing. It is intended that the actual amount of energy produced and saved will be shown on a display to heighten the environmental awareness of the pupils.
In addition to utilising solar energy, the roof has another environmental benefit. The flat roof between the low-incline surfaces is covered with an extensive green roof.
The strength of the building
Similarly to the previously erected building, the pupils, teachers and parents quickly came to feel at home in and to like the new wing. The German School of Budapest is a fine example of how a building can support the quality of education.