Monday, September 14, 2009


Lussi + Halter Architekten - Saint Karl School, Altdorf, Switzerland

The second work we present by Lussi + Halter is a refurbished school, showing a precise and subtle design, combining new expressive elements, continuing the existing shape.

"Every extension, as in the case of this school building with an overall volume almost double the size, poses the following question: In what relationship should the old be placed to the new. What is to be done – continue building or form a contrast? Thomas Lussi and Remo Halter decided to continue building, in a manner that leads to the creation of a new integrated whole. The small school building, built in 1953, was a special feature of the monastery: on one hand, it was located entirely on the site of the monastery, with the classrooms facing the peaceful Klostermatte (meadow), while on the other hand its entrance and refectory opened out towards the village. The extension is based on this typology. However, the proposed extension does not simply mean the addition of a new building volume to the logic of the existing school building, but rather an extensive re-shaping of the old building, an integration of the existing school into a new whole by means of a new façade, a new roof, and a new, harmonious architectural language. The old school building has been quasi absorbed by the new building and is able to continue living inside of it. The beautiful entrance links the different depths of the spatial layers of the old and new buildings. The light marble in the flooring is a reference to the building culture on the other side of the Alps, an Italianità, which can also be found in some of the historic buildings in Altdorf. In this almost blindingly bright room, the windows, with their view of the strong Gotthard mountain range or the monastery are like precious panel paintings. The space in front of the new school building has been organised in a pleasantly economic, calm manner: two walls with horizontal capstones trace the line of the sloping gravelled square where the children play football and let off steam during the breaks. And the best thing about it: somehow, the old school building St. Karl has not vanished. As is by miracle, it is still there, in a new guise, and even the clock on the wall of the entrance seems to still be its old self"
Elisabeth Boesch

/// click to SEE and DOWNLOAD the pdf / Lussi + Halter Architekten - Saint Karl School

Street façade with the access on left pointing east

Interior view

View of the entrance hall toward the entrance glass door

Detail of the staircase

Overall view from southwest