Project data
Philipp Reis Schule

Philipp Reis School


Competition 2006, Honorable mention


Kreisausschuss des Hochtaunuskreises, Bad Homburg v. d. Höhe

Project Partner:

In collaboration with Voigt und Herzig Architekten, Michael Palm (Landscape architecture)

Building Type:

School, two sports halls, cafeteria, nursery school


31.300 sqm GFA


Fritz Vöpel

School centre on the edge of Taunus

The new Philipp Reis School located on a heavily forested lot at the edge of a settlement in a transition zone to the forests of Taunus creates a new school centre. Derived from the specific circumstances of this location, the building follows the edges of the forest, detaches itself and surrounds the internal space of the school property.

Through repeated bends in the long form, the volume is broken down and thus corresponding to the adjacent fragmented small-scale settlement structure. 

The building is designed as an all-day school and is also available to the general public.


Forest Clearing

The school campus sits like a clearing in the midst of trees. The forest as a peaceful natural environment determines the base character of the facility.

The elongated building structure with its repeated bends defines the edges of the forest clearing. Therefore, it forms a protected internal area as the centre of the school, which serves as a meeting point and schoolyard and at the same time creates an inviting entrance.

By elevating sections of the building situated at the edges of the forest, the natural space is experienced in this central area and defines the atmosphere of the entire facility.


Internal centre /Linkage to the natural environment

With its inner shell, the school building turns towards the internal open space which functions as a central communication point. All social and communicative functions are arranged in this inner layer.

On the other hand, areas of concentrated learning are located towards the outside and the natural environment. These are the quiet, contemplative nature oriented spaces, which define the edges of the forest.


Open spaces and transitions

As the heart of the facility, the gently sloped schoolyard provides a variety of spatial experiences and internal-external linkages, through elongated seating areas, slight terracing and plantings.

Through the partial elevation of the building, the natural space of the surrounding forest is experienced in the schoolyard. The openings in the volume on ground floor connect the courtyard to the edge of the forest and at the same time provide spaces for open-air classes, breaks and retreats.


Arrangement of functions

The form of the school facility is defined by the two storey ribbon-like building with regular teaching areas which frames the property line as an elevated element. This ribbon spatially incorporates the lower common functions such as the sport hall, cafeteria and technical classrooms.

The open spaces under the elevated ribbon serve as covered lunch break areas and create a linkage between internal open spaces and the forest.


Energy Concept

The central schoolyard is designed as 'climate yard'.

A cooler downwind from the forest, flows through the elevated building and provides fresh air and night cooling in the yard and in eastern parts of the building. At the same time, the schoolyard opens to the south, through which a maximum utilization of passive solar gain is achieved.


Structure formation

The central idea of following the edge of the forest and elevating the building as a detached structure from the ground, results in the formation of a light floating skeleton structure. In the small openings on the ground floor, the round columns continue the sequence of the tree trunks in the adjacent forest.

Functions such as cafeteria and sports hall form an orthogonal large volume with the delicate ribbon building spanning over them. In this way they are integrated into the overall concept as special elements.

Overall, the architecture is understood as a medium with a stimulating and motivating environment to promote learning, social interaction and the perception of natural space.