Construction Site SCHOOL - Sustainable Models for the Refurbishment of School Buildings?

In this research project, models for refurbishment and restructuring of school buildings were developed. The reconstruction concepts contain lists of measures for deploying sustainable building techniques and exemplary case studies for the reorganisation of buildings of different typologies.

Short Description




Discussions on school politics, school organization and investments into education are among the most heavily discussed topics in politics. Bad results for Austrian pupils in the Pisa studies, working times of teachers, quotas of immigrant children at schools, the ideological debate on the comprehensive school are only a few of the recent topics. Education will change in the near future. When innovative pedagogues are talking of learning landscapes, it is hard to combine this with rigid functional structures in existing schools.

But new school constructions will play a less important role in the future. Is it possible to adapt existing buildings functionally for the requirements of future education? In the key principles of "Buildings of Tomorrow", development compatible with future requirements is understood as a dynamic process which needs permanent adjustment to new circumstances. New demographic changes and requirements indicate an adaptation of the school building stock. But this process is complicated by the fact that a high percentage of existing schools is in bad shape and needs urgent refurbishment. Therefore it is very important to develop future-oriented measures now, otherwise sustainable technologies will not be introduced. These basic questions should be answered during this project and be combined with the advantages of sustainable refurbishment.

The project is subdivided into the phases of project preparation, building stock inquiry (building condition, outdoor spaces, pedagogic and functional criteria), analysis of international concepts and examples, development of refurbishment models, analysis and feedback and aggregation of results in a manual. The pedagogical and functional criteria were investigated via qualitative interviews with school principals, teachers and experts in the field of pedagogy and school administration. Further analysis and feedback was made possible by three interdisciplinary workshops.

Additionally, we examined exemplary solutions for the spatial implementation of modern pedagogical concepts in the European context. In Europe, many schools with innovative architecture and many with innovative pedagogical concepts can be found; but only few which combine these two aspects. Therefore, analysis was focused on Skandinavia and Germany plus several aspects of the development in the Netherlands and South Tyrol. Skandinavia and the Netherlands were included because of the innovative models, Germany and South Tyrol because of the cultural and administrative-political closeness which might allow the transferability of the analyzed models.

Educators agree more or less on the special relevance of spatial factors for learning. Positive and negative spatial factors differ in relation to building age and typology. Spatial conditions which facilitate modern learning practices are e.g. open spaces and space compartments, space reserves and several small spaces for individual support and small groups, spaces with different qualities and sizes, large spaces for festivities and events, etc. All building typologies have, besides considerable amounts of possible energy savings, potentials for spatially differentiated use and functional reorganisation. In the prototypic refurbishment concepts which were developed during this project, the potentials and shortcomings of each building period are accounted for. Compensating measures for the shortcomings were developed.

The aggregation of results in the form of a manual targets at a synthesis of ideas developed in the framework of "Buildings of Tomorrow", of concepts of administrations and of future trends, represented in a compendium for school operators, school communities, architects and educators. The School Manual: Architecture and Planning Basics, A guideline to ecologically sustainable refurbishment of schools will be presented as a independent report. The report is available for download (in German only) at the German project page.

Project Partners

Project management

Arch. DI Maja Lorbek (technisch), DI Dr. Edeltraud Haselsteiner (organisatorisch)

Project collaborators

  • DI Gerhild Stosch
  • Mag. Robert Temel

Project or cooperation partner

pedagogy, school development, open-spaces

  • IUS - Institut für Unterrichts und Schulentwicklung, Wien-Klagenfurt
  • ZSE - Zentrum für Schulentwicklung, Graz-Klagenfurt
  • ÖISS, Arbeitskreis Schulfreiräume

School administration Graz, Styria and Vienna

  • Stadtbaudirektion Graz
  • Stadtschulamt Graz
  • Landesschulrat Steiermark
  • Magistratsabteilungen der Gemeinde Wien: MA 19 - Architektur und Stadtgestaltung, MA 56 - Städtische Schulverwaltung (angefragt), MA 34 - Bau- und Gebäudemanagement (angef.)
  • Stadtschulrat Wien
  • BIG - Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft

Contact Address

Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Edeltraud Haselsteiner
Märzstrasse 158/20
1140 Wien
T: +43 (1) 9834038
F: +43 (1) 9834938
Handy: +43 (699) 12698082