ERICH KäSTNER SCHULE || Leipzig, DE || 2009 || Invited competition
whit : Anna Paola Busnardo, Malte Kosensky, Luca Racchini
Engineering consultant : Cotefa s.r.l.
Landscape consultant : Antonio Perazzi


The site is surrounded by 4 stories - high buildings.
They form a urban wing. The plot is irregular, long and uncertain.
There is no need to occupy the entire plot. Part of it can be sold to private owners, in order to partially finance the construction of the school.
The plot division of the sold land is organized according to the settling principle of the existing urban villas. The new villas will be organized along a V-shaped strip resulting from the offset of several meters from the south - eastern and south - western boundaries of the plot.
The school, together with the sports-hall, occupies the central triangular site resulting from this offset. It confines on the north with Erfurter Str., on south-east with the existing villas , on south-west with the new open-air sports facilities (100 m track, long jump and sports meadow).



Number of stories
The height of the new school building doesn’t compete with the background. Instead of a new tall isolated block, we aim to propose a new landscape, developed on different levels, visible from the windows of the neighbourhood.

The number of stories of the building is reduced to 2. The children will have a more direct contact with the external areas and with nature. The maximum eight of the school building is 8 meters. Only a light transparent volume emerges: it is the steel mesh box enveloping the outdoor sports fields, lying on the roof of the sports-hall.



Position of the building on the plot
The sports hall volume faces Erfurter Str. directly. while the main body of the school is set 32 meters back, deep in the earth of the urban plot, in a quiet and protected environment.

The position of the sports hall establishes a clear landmark, visible from Georg-Shuhmann-Str, especially in case of demolition of the actual tall school building. At the same time, it allows the construction of the new sports structure while the existing one is still operating. Phasing: 1) Construction of the new sports hall. 2) Demolition of the old one.3) Advancement of the construction site and completion of the school building.

The setbacks from the street (9 meters) and the confining plots (at least 4 meters) are carefully calculated in order to save all the protected trees.


Building Shape
The new school building is combining the maximum compactness (energetic efficiency) with the minimum possible height (human scale). Its volume derives from the excavation of the needed open-air surfaces into the extruded triangular plot. In addition, a set of smaller open spaces (patios) perforates the volume, making the roof the main facade of the school.

The voids, then, “construct” the school as well as the built structure, establishing a gradient of open air spaces. Between the breaking zone adjacent to Erfurter Str. and the triangular school garden on the south, the pattern of patios, conceived as “extroverted greenhouses”, provides more intimate didactic gardens and is the natural extension into open-air summer classes.

The 2 stories clearly define the organization of the program: the ground floor will host the kindergarten together with the main collective spaces (entrance hall distributing to both the school and the sports-hall, mensa, multi purpose hall, library), while the school classes and the different laboratories are on the 1st floor.


A “leave and go” area, together with some parking lots, is placed along Erfurter Str. which will be entirely open to vehicular traffic (one way) coming from Georg-Shuhmann-Str. The entrance to the school area is on Erfurter Str., in central position. The gate gives access to the break-zone, embraced by the sports hall wing to the east and the school facade on the south. SEZ01

Walking north-south one reaches the main entrance hall, anticipated by a wide loggia covered by the cantilevered volume of the 1st floor. School and sports hall have independent accesses open on the entrance area, so that sport clubs can use the gym facilities in the evening bypassing the school entrance.


The wide “central navata” that opens on the entrance is the main distribution system of the whole building. All vertical connections and services are distributed along its length, and on its opposite side it hosts all wardrobes and it expands into the widely illuminated multipurpose hall, directly connected to the mensa. The “navata” gives access on the south to four orthogonal corridors serving the 12 kindergarten rooms and several other facilities. Three of these corridors reach the school garden on the extreme southern side of the building. The distribution scheme is replicated on the 1st floor but here the corridors, in number of 7, open on both sides of the “navata” to reach the 16 classrooms (4 on each side), plus the library, workshops, and all the other facilities related to the school. The sports hall has a completely independent circulation system, and a dedicated stair and elevator core reaches the sport fields on the rooftop.
The landscape is pervasive.
Building and landscape are totally integrated.


The external envelope of the building is a mute concrete shell, only punctuated by seemingly random perforations.


Their density varies according to the need of light for the different functions. Here and there the envelope detaches from the building and becomes the perimeteral wall for open spaces. The “real” facades of the building are introverted: wide glass surfaces facing east and west take the maximum light from the patios openings to the classrooms interiors. The light is then intense but not direct, being reflected and refracted by opposite surfaces. A motorized system of external curtains will be used to screen direct light and reduce excessive solar heat where needed (upper floor).