“Villa Thérèse” School Building
Ignacio Martinez

“Villa Thérèse” School Building

Marques AG I Daniele Marques as Architects

The old school house "Villa Thérèse," an old turn of the century boarding school, is located within a generous park in a somewhat isolated area between the historic city center of Fribourg and a quarter comprising apartment buildings from the 1960s and 1970s. It was to be expanded with the addition of fourteen primary school classrooms, four kindergarten classes and one double gymnasium.


The three individual volumes that were newly integrated into the park, each with a different use, were grouped around the existing schoolhouse. Together with the Villa Thérèse, they form a campus through the creation of distinctive outdoor spaces. Spatial relationships and condensations were achieved, while an overall expression, which can also be found in the city, was accomplished.


The design of the volumes is oriented towards two poles: nature and abstraction. The dark tinted concrete on the facades, etched to allow the edgy gravel to show through, gives the appearance of natural stone and helps to integrate the volumes into the park landscape. Contrary to the coarse outer appearance, the interior of the three buildings is characterized by smooth surfaces and the color scheme, which was developed in cooperation with an artist. The abstract nature of the spaces creates a special atmosphere for both teaching and learning.


With respect to their interior structure, the three new buildings react to their relationship with the park space and the other buildings. The primary schoolhouse consists of a sequence of spaces with differing orientations: towards the central yard, the meadow sloping toward the south, the treetops or the historic city center with the cathedral tower as its landmark. In the case of the kindergarten, the access and recess hall, which is located parallel to the slope, is overlapped by the arrangement of the classrooms, which cross the hall's axis. The classrooms are oriented towards the distant horizon of the hills to the north, and to the more intimate playground to the south. Half of the gymnasium is below grade, built into the slope. Above it, the glazing along its entire width allows a view into the gymnasium from the access path and, through the glazing on the other side, into the hilly landscape.

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