The new schools complex in Ratzeburg is located in a mainly residential cityscape, in the middle of an area of low-density detached housing, characterised by brick architecture and pitched roofs that make up the neighbourhood’s identity.
This schools complex includes an existing specialised school, a primary school and a lower form secondary school, and it aims to be a strong, identifiable landmark in its urban setting, on the scale of the city of Ratzeburg and the county of Lauenburg.
The main aim of Mikou Design Studio scheme was to design and develop schools amenities within a consistent, uniform architectural whole which creates spatial centrality with a shared common core while clearly identifying each of the schools.
To meet the requirements of the brief for creating empty spaces for school playgrounds and to protect some existing trees, Mikou Design Studio designed the primary and secondary school buildings with free, flowing forms that sensitively link together the project’s internal and external spaces and which describe a sensual, organic figure on the site.
An overall view of the scheme’s layout is very organic, reminiscent of a plant pattern with a very strongly marked central core and branches that extend towards the site’s boundaries and contain spaces for the various school functions. Therefore the proposed scheme opens onto its urban setting through its large courtyards with their undulating, generous forms that alternate with the rhythm of the various primary and secondary school units.
The façades undulating along the school playgrounds are mainly glazed to provide maximum lighting of the classrooms and large transparent openings on the ground floor towards external spaces of planted courtyards. These façades consist of alternating clear glazing and white screen-printed glazing to protect the privacy of the classrooms and also to allow a play of vibrations and reflections accentuated by the curved movement of the buildings. Thus, from the inside of the spaces and from the outside, the visual perception is that of light, dynamic architecture that is vibrant by the play of reflections of light and the dense vegetation present on the site.
At the edge of the site, the façades become more opaque and are faced with smooth, reflective light grey metal panels, which rhythm the building on the streets – Mechower Strasse and Heinrich Scheele Strasse – while creating a strong contrast of perception with the transparent materiality in the courtyards.
In Mikou Design Studio scheme, the awakening of the senses of pupils in the primary and secondary schools is reflected through the flow of spaces, the changing perspectives, the dynamic of the circulation flows induced by the curved forms, the visual transparency towards the external spaces and towards the upper floors created by the double height of the entrance lobbies.