wulf architekten GmbH
Weiterstadt, Germany | View Map
Project Year
Secondary Schools
Stories By
wulf architekten GmbH

VELUX Commercial
Brigida González
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct link
ManufacturersVELUX CommercialAtrium Longlight/Ridgelight
ManufacturersForbo Flooring Systems
ManufacturersAKUSTIK & RAUM
ManufacturersBMK Bergström GmbH
ManufacturersLauster Steinbau GmbH

Product Spec Sheet
by Occhio

Learning under tree tops

wulf architekten GmbH as Architects

Organized into three pavilion-like elements around a common core, this new building addition at Germany’s Hessenwald School is suffused with light. Facades of exposed masonry coated with a light-gray whitewash are punctuated by large horizontal window openings with low sills while Velux rooflights flood the central space from above. A further design response to light is a perforated sunshade that filters daylight and emphasizes the feeling of being in a forest clearing. The school’s high energy standards and commitment to sustainable design are supported by compliance with the Passive House Institute’s criteria for the building’s energy demands.

More from the Architects:

The Hessenwald School is located in a glade near the village of Gräfenhausen, a part of Weiterstadt (Darmstadt). It is a cooperative, lower secondary level comprehensive school with multiple tracks that allow student mobility among different school forms, such as academic high school, mid-level secondary school, middle school, and combined lower- and mid-level secondary school for a total of 700 pupils. The new building is subdivided into three pavilion-like elements grouped around a common center. The pavilions establish a sense of individuality and identity for the respective grade levels, and each has a multipurpose room and five classrooms on its two upper floors. The specialized classrooms, administration, cafeteria, and school kitchen are located at the entrance level of the pavilions. At the heart of the newly created ensemble are the common areas, such as the auditorium, the music room, and the recreation room, which have been designed as a large “public center.” The pavilions are grouped around this central hall, which is suffused with light and cites the natural surroundings with its wood surfaces and the terrazzo floor. The perforated sunshading in front of the peripheral gallery filters the daylight, creating an atmosphere much like that under the trees. All areas of the school ensemble can be coupled spatially. The design implements in built form the desired spatial division and recognizability of the grade levels and strengthens the genius loci, which lies in the uniqueness of the site and the appeal of the forest clearing. The architectural language of the new school suitably reinforces the conceptual clarity of the design. The serenely designed pavilions are clearly discernible as such. Their facades of exposed masonry coated with a light-gray whitewash are punctuated by large horizontal window openings with low sills. The special areas in the hallways and on the ground floor are deliberately designed to be transparent. This not only articulates the architectural form, but also develops a sensuous contrast between the classes, on the one hand, and the circulation and communal spaces on the other. A “reading platform” was developed for each grade-level area, creating zones within the flexibly usable area between the classrooms and defining a quiet retreat within the forum. The outdoor space is understood as a place that can be interpreted, and which draws its strength from the interplay between contact and retreat, between free play and group activity. The space between the buildings and the forest edge can be activated as needed with small garden rooms for different functions, such as a garden laboratory, tree nursery, school garden or green classroom. The school’s high energy standard is evidenced by its compliance with the Passive House Institute’s criteria for the primary energy demand of the entire building.

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VELUX Commercial as Manufacturers

This new building for the Hessenwald School in Germany lives up to sustainability criteria while blending beautifully with its natural surroundings. The building comprises three pavilions connected by a large central atrium featuring VELUX modular Longlights. The atrium serves as a central space not only for activity but also as a source of incoming and daylight and fresh air to the building. Providing an optimal environment to playing, learning and rest, the skylights further work by providing solar heat gain in the winter and ventilation in the summer.

More from the Manufacturer:

Enhancing the learning environment in Hessenwaldschule with daylight and fresh air.
When facing the task of replacing the old school building, Hessenwaldschule went for a design that supports optimum learning, lives up to sustainability criteria and blends in with the beautiful natural surroundings.
The pavilion-style architecture is connected by a large, central atrium covered with VELUX modular Longlights. The atrium skylights serve as the main source of incoming daylight and fresh air and provide a comfortable space for playing, learning and resting.

• The atrium skylight solution comprises 84 Longlight 5-30° modules.
• The installation of all modules was completed in just four days.
• The skylights provide solar heat gain in winter and can be opened for ventilation in summer.

The entire school community of students, parents and teachers are very positive and excited about the new school.

Marcus Bürger

Principal, Hessenwaldschule

The architecture is great and the amount of light is fantastic, and so is the temperature. We’ve got an ideal climate here. It’s not just an indoor climate; it’s a learning climate.

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