The schoolhouse as we know it has been upended in Leutschenbach, Switzerland, a quiet suburban corner north of metropolitan City of Zurich, Switzerland, where the city is transforming a former industrial site into a mixed-use, middle-class neighborhood infused with green spaces. Rising six stories above the trees, housing developments, and remaining factories, a crystalline new school designed by Christian Kerez not only treats students to sweeping views from the top-floor gym, it represents a clear vision for the future of a community and its children.
The initiative for change began in the mid-1990s. At that time education reforms prompted new guidelines for school construction emphasizing the need for more flexible, sustainable spaces that accommodate current instructional needs like group learning, team teaching, computer workspaces, and early childhood centers. More importantly, since pedagogical concepts are subject to change, a building must be adaptable for subsequent trends. Four schools have been built and 15 more renovated or expanded since 1998. In each case, a project-planning committee made up of school and building authorities, invited programmatic design proposals from architects through an open competition.