The architects, von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, have completed the extension and conversion of Martin Luther School at Rimbach in 2015. The 1300 students of the grammar school, which is one of the most important educational establishments in Germany’s Odenwald region and has music as a key subject area, now have at their disposal 48 class rooms and 19 specialist subject rooms for music, art, and natural sciences.
The design comprises two compactly organized buildings that are placed at an angle to each other and house all central functions of the school. Where the buildings meet, a new prestigious main entrance has been created, which is approached via a generous forecourt – a fitting entrance to the school, which has grown continuously over the years. From a bird’s eye perspective, the new tracts add to the small-scale existing buildings, forming a well-ordered ensemble of staggered volumes that also provide a setting for the village’s church, which is protected as a historic building. At the back, the new building opens up to the open landscape with the River Weschnitz, a tributary to the River Rhine. The adjoining flood plane is used as open area that is accessible to the school’s students during break time.
The school’s functions in the new buildings have been organized around atria and inner courtyards. They are accessed via a central three-run staircase and lift at the angle point of the building, which lead to the floor levels of the new and existing buildings. All class rooms and specialist subject rooms have windows facing out on to the landscape.
The smaller, two-story building contains the main circulation areas and serves as a meeting point. It links directly with the existing building and – housing art and music rooms, as well as the respective exhibition areas in this central position – reflects the importance of these subjects within the school’s curriculum. The upper floor contains the administration offices, the headmaster’s suite, and the teachers’ staff room. The larger, three-story building surrounds an inner courtyard which – on the first floor – is open to the entrance side and to the river. The inner courtyard leads to the refectory, with an integrated stage, and the ‘all-day’ area with cafeteria and group rooms, which can be flexibly combined for larger events. The upper stories contain additional classrooms and the two-story high gymnasium.
The central element of the landscaping design is the schoolyard which, with its fluid shape, links the Weschnitz meadows with the schoolyards and break areas of the extension building. A multi-functional play landscape inside the inner courtyard, a kick-about pitch, school gardens, and an outdoor classroom are the elements of a spatially differentiated landscape for the school’s diverse activities. In terms of energy use, the building’s consumption is 30% lower than required by the Energy Conservation Directive (EnEV).
With its earthy red and brown hues, the school’s color scheme reflects the architecture of the region and the many shades of variegated sandstone. Different shades and intensities are used to accentuate different surfaces inside and outside the building.
Design: Volkwin Marg and Hubert Nienhoff with Veit Lieneweg and Kristian
Project management: Bernd Gossmann, Christian Klimaschka In cooperation with Mettler Landscape Architects (competition)
Design team: Tobias Mäscher, Iza Kaizer, Adel Motamedi, Sarah Gerg, Elisabeth Heiner, Nadja Meinicke, Antje Pfeiffer, Stephan Both
Team implementation: Carla Silva Ferreira, Elisabeth Heiner, Nicole Jahn, Brigitta Kortz
Site supervision: Katja Poschmann, Uwe Otte, Peter Biermann, Tuba Fil, Dirk Backhaus