Grammar School Rhenaniastraße, Berlin

Client: HOWOGE Wohnungsbaugesellschaft mbH
Cooperation: SEHW Architektur
Period: 2023
Dimension: 2 ha
Location: Berlin-Spandau
Contest: Recognition
Idea & urban development

The design idea for the new grammar school in Rhenaniastraße pursues the concept of an inviting and identity-forming place of learning in the Wasserstadt Berlin-Oberhavel. The four-storey building forms the urban prelude and is an important anchor point of the new district. As a threefold solitaire, the design combines architecture with functional spatial concepts. In addition, the new building fits in as if it were a matter of course at the interface between small-scale existing and new residential development.

With its interlocking structures, which are graduated in height, the impression of a small-scale and compact building is created. The grammar school has a spacious forecourt facing Rhenaniastraße, which is given an inviting atmosphere by the old trees and embeds the building in its surroundings. In the central area of the building, the interlocking arrangement of the volumes creates an indentation that clearly emphasises the entrance area and provides an intuitive address.

The building with the sports hall faces away from the residential buildings towards the east. It has an independent night entrance that is accessible from Rhenaniastraße. The playground can be accessed from all sides and connects seamlessly with the park to the west. The protected English oaks and other trees in the schoolyard are preserved and contribute to the natural design of the site. By placing the buildings in continuation of the development in the north of the competition site, the natural space in the south remains largely untouched and a clear separation of architecture and surroundings is created.

Open space concept

The school’s outdoor area consists of a variety of different uses to meet the needs of a broad student body. There are communicative areas with seating, opportunities to encourage movement, as well as green retreats and places to relax. The forecourt on Rhenaniastraße forms an open and representative entrance with individual tree islands and seating elements. The rear area of the school is characterised by generous leisure and recreation areas. It forms a counterpart to the buildings thanks to their natural and landscaped design language. In the immediate vicinity of the school is the lowered green classroom, which together with the two old oaks forms a central meeting point. The large event meadow offers space for parties and performances.

In the eastern part, near the refectory, is the school garden with raised beds and a greenhouse. The areas around the near-natural seepage basin, characterised by trees, invite the pupils to experience nature and offer places of retreat with references to flora and fauna. In the eastern area of the loop is the active recreation area with functional integration into the green corridor of the neighbouring neighbourhood.

A side entrance for the school grounds is located here, as is a separate entrance to the small playing field. The sports area also has a streetball field, outdoor fitness, a gymnastics lawn, and table tennis tables. In the direction of the southern quarters, there is a further access for an optimal connection to the surrounding area. Movable loungers and seating furniture can be found throughout the area, inviting visitors to linger in the sun or shade. In consideration of the tree population worthy of protection, a green, near-natural buffer is formed at the southern edges.

Drainage concept

An essential part of the ecological concept is the handling of rainwater. In the spirit of the sponge city, the concept features a cascade of retention systems consisting of blue-green roofs, swales and a cistern. The goals are not only retention and infiltration, but also the improvement of the climate in the entire area through the evaporation and use of rainwater for the irrigation of the gardens and green spaces. Excess rainwater is diverted towards the near-natural infiltration basin. In addition, a swale will be created in the area of the forecourt. The surfaces in the schoolyard will be chosen in such a way that rainwater can seep away over a large area. The lowered green classroom allows for damage-free, temporary flooding during heavy rainfall events.