Austrian School Budapest
Austrian School Budapest / Österreichische Schule Budapest
Orban Hegyi Ut. , Budapest / Ungarn
The Austrian School in Budapest is an obviously contemporary, open, light-flooded glass appliance that slides up beside a banal school building dating from the 19th century. The project is planned as a three-wing building placed on an approximately north-south axis. The side-wings are occupied by classrooms, teacher’s offices and a stairway on the west-side. The side-wings are more bulky, whereas the middle section of the building containing hallways, toilets and elevators for handicapped students is more narrower. The uncovered concrete surfaces are most dominant in the middle section, which is the solid core of the building. The structures get lighter towards the front walls. The central core is a 3 storey-high hall which is completely glazed. It is also where the roof plates meet (they jut out above the wall surfaces, which make them appear light).
The logic of the arrangement is that architectural structures get lighter towards the facades. Parallel to this, the floor space of the various sections gets bigger and bigger as one approaches the external world through the front walls. This is a highly symbolic architectural path connecting school and life. It is the result of a future-oriented approach, in contrast with the isolating tendency in traditional school buildings.
Partly due to this gesture, and partly for the purpose of loosening up the tube-like central section, the roof structures behind the steel-supported glass facade open into each other, creating an atrium. It is a smart solution that the elevator shaft has a glass wall in the direction of the facade with the atrium, following the opening-up-from-inside arrangement and showing the mechanism of the elevator in full.
The classrooms are large, with full-height windows letting in much light, shaded by sturdy aluminium lamellas in three rows on the sunny side, together with galvanized-lattice passage galleries, the first layer of an enthrallingly new-constructivist frontal composition. The classroom partition walls do not run solid up to the curtain wall plane, but connect to it via a window section. Another window, at the top, makes the connection to the ceiling, and yet another, above the inward-reaching wide reinforced concrete frieze, in the direction of the corridor. This gives a feeling of openness and transparency.
The building itself is a low energy house with several environmentally conscious features, unusual in Hungary, such as the recycling of rain water. The balconies in front of the classrooms (this is probably the only school in the county where classrooms have balconies) are not only a very popular place for students to take their brakes, they also make the rooms seem wider and – due to the two balcony doors – provide a special ventilation system.
As a result of all this it is no surprise that most of the pupils of the senior high school feel extremely well in this building. According to the headmaster, the new building has increased the delight in learning to an unbelievable extent, a fact also confirmed in the school exams.