Web Exclusive: Finding an Angle

The Steiner School, designed by Localarchitecture, weds interior spaces and lush vegetation.

by Ben Frotscher

It’s been said that some of the best designers are rule breakers—rebels who are often praised for disregarding the principles of design. But you can’t break the rules if you don’t have any to start with.

That’s a guiding principle for Swiss-based Localarchitecture, who built the 1,368-square-meter Rudolf Steiner School in Bois-Genoud, Lausanne, Switzerland.

“As part of our daily practice, our creative process involves constantly questioning the creative process itself,” said Manuel Bieler, Architect EPFL, FAS, SIA. “There are no predefined rules, no statements that direct the development of a design. The experience gained in previous projects is systematically questioned and doesn’t determine the basis around which we develop our new projects. The project defines its own design process.”

Bieler questions everything, from project data to physical data such as energy production and savings. The continual questions contribute to developing ideas that prove to be relevant at the completion of the project. With the Rudolf Steiner School—which takes a holistic approach to knowledge—it was important to be surrounded by natural elements, connecting the inside teaching world and vegetation surrounding it.

A staircase and ramp provide easy access to outside corridors, as well as direct access to cloakrooms and classrooms. A sealed north façade provides shelter from noise pollution produced by a local highway, while the glazed south façade serves as a solar collector and helps the building from overheating in the summer months.

“The questioning of the definition of the building’s entrance—of the hierarchy between teaching spaces and circulation spaces of the structural and energy logic—led us to develop an innovative design,” said Bieler. “The outside corridors suspended from the roof serve both as outside teaching spaces and as sun protection elements.”