St. Johann Schoolhouse
best architects 19 in gold
Basel / Switzerland
Built between 1886 and 1888 according to the plans of cantonal master builder Heinrich Reese, the St. Johann Schoolhouse was Basel’s third suburban schoolhouse, after the Bläsi and Sevogel schoolhouses. The monumental building was constructed in the Neo-Renaissance style, its elements in strict symmetry. Characteristic features are the many windows, which provide a great deal of light, and the high relief of the main façade facing the park. The clear overall organisation with a central entrance, stairwells at each end, wide daylit corridors and not least the eastward orientation, along with light-flooded classrooms, reflected the latest developments in school building at the time.
Interestingly enough, despite constant technical advances and above all growing pedagogical requirements, the way the knowledge of the time was applied here spatially still functions after more than a century has passed, and will continue to do so in the coming decades thanks to the complete overhaul and attic extension that has now been carried out. In concrete terms, this means that components were replaced in strict keeping with the historical building fabric. These components include in particular new oak windows with triple glazing and the same historical divisions and profiles, new oak floors in a herringbone pattern, oil paints for the wood and metalwork, and a colour scheme developed from the historical colour concept.
Statement of the Jury
«Re-use is a theme that contemporary architects are ever more frequently required to address. The need to repair and restore existing structures, and improve their thermal properties, is a complex task requiring a negotiation between strategy and detail. The jury found that the manner in which this project attended to the task was the result of a clear and accurate attitude on the part of the architects. The abundant qualities of the existing building are preserved and the additions and adjustments made are harmonious while remaining legible. This is a subtle, sensitive and intelligent project, one that is careful with the atmosphere it preserves of a school as a building type.»
In an unbiased examination of the most diverse questions of a project, it is important for us to create comprehensible, identity-creating and long-term functional architecture on every scale.