Schools and Universities

Johann-Gutenberg-Highschool, Erfurt

2003 bis 2005

The redevelopment of the school grounds of Johann-Gutenberg grammar school in Erfurt was launched as a direct consequence of a former pupil’s shooting spree in 2002. In the wake of this catastrophe, the school building remained closed until 2005. Both the history and the place had to find a new identity. The idea of the competition design for the required extension buildings was to make the new buildings themselves structuring elements of both the urban development and the public space. The landscaping concept aims at a fusion of openness, exchange and a chance for individual identification. The flight of stairs furnishes the historic school building with a modern, open base, a welcoming “pupils’ platform”. In terms of urban design, the figure draws on the stairs of Erfurt Cathedral in the heart of the historic medieval city, the venue of an annual open-air festival. The schoolyard is being retained in its original dimensions, but subdivided in a patchwork of minor terraced theme gardens, seating steps, “green classrooms” and areas for playing and relaxation and assumes an additional function as an urban square for the neighbourhood. Owing to the landscape design, the school building’s reticence and the school as an institution give way to an atmosphere of openness, creating usable free and open spaces that evoke a sense of belonging, rootedness and identity, firmly embedded within the surrounding urban space.