Birch Schule by Peter Märkli
Big house with big joints
This school is part of a redevelopment of an industrial
area in Oerlikon just outside Zürich. Märklis intention was
to create a shool that is part of and a generator of public
space. The repetitious precast facade aims towards the
language of classical public buildings. The building faces
in every direction and is
“the same all over”. A reference to the
Smithsonsand their concept of
“a building of the conglomerate order”?
The interiors follow the logic of a
“big house with big joints”. The materials are
robust and the joints large. The internal elevations are
highly elaborated and there seems to be no attemt at
reduction. The problem of sprinklers, fire alarms, smoke
detectors and lights was solved in a positive way. Rather
than hiding them Märkli has collected them in flat white
cages attached to the ceiling. The suspended ceilings form
boxy space-making shapes. The design choice between less or
a robust more always fall on the latter.
The palette of colours comes from a 1969 Alpha Romeo and
is a muted green, grey, beige. A very successfull and
unusual choice is the dark red colour used for sinks and
flooring in wet areas. Märkli is was keen to point out that
one should not use primary colours for children as in would
contribute to an infantilizing of the young who are just as
sensitive in these matters as adults.. Moreover the
children, their art and their clothes will add colour to
Sadly I lost the 'real' roll of film from this visit.
These photograhs are only my casual digisnaps.