schoolhouse in grono by raphael zuber
schoolhouse in grono by raphael zuber schoolhouse in grono by raphael zuber
feb 05, 2013
schoolhouse in grono by raphael zuber

‘schoolhouse in grono’ by raphael zuber, grono, switzerland

image © javier miguel verme

all images courtesy of raphael zuber



using the geometry of a square inscribed in a circle, raphael zuber’s first built work is an elegant assertion of architectural wonder on the
quiet swiss landscape. in his winning competition entry for a school and kindergarten, zuber envisioned a building of quadrate proportions that interacted
with the sloping green landscape of a public square in the bucolic town of grono. the realized building makes manifest a garden as a circular crater,
overgrown with flowers and walnut trees that doubles as a play area for kindergarteners. the building stands in the middle of the garden with a rising bridge that
quietly curves into the first floor.  the concrete slabs that make up the structure are brown pigmented in situ to match the local soil and are further subdivided
with non-load bearing elements. the physical presence of the concrete borders on delicate given the euclidean cutouts that further multiply the layers of geometric inscriptions. 
the symmetrical plan allows each floor to be oriented in all directions, all vertically linked with geometrically identical quarter ellipses.
these ninety-degree arches are tied by pre-stressed cables, their loads subsequently transferred to central bearing points. the structural slabs
seem to lift from the center of each face of the building, giving the school an air of simultaneous lightness and heaviness. the visual effect is one of kahn-like
proportions and a monumentality that reverberates through the landscape.  
their is a richness to an architecture this honest– direct in materials and unabashed in its problem solving. the space begins to evoke the intangible qualities
of magnificence and complexity.




the schoolhouse stand in the middle of a public square

image © javier miguel verme



the mountains that cut through grono divide switzerland and italy in addition to framing the schoolhouse

image © javier miguel verme



the interior volumes seem carved out of solid forms, yet afford geometric glimpses into the landscape

image © javier miguel verme



the areas between the rotated arches let in curved slats of countryside and plenty of natural light

image © javier miguel verme



construction view of the slab and cable system of the arches

image © raphael zuber



site plan






floor plan level – 1



floor plan level 0



floor plan level 1



floor plan level 2



conceptual diagram




project info:



country +start/end date: grono, switzerland, january 2008-august 2011
use: schoolhouse and kindergarten
client: comune politico di 6537 grono
architect: raphael zuber, chur
collaborators: david gianinazzi, kosuke yutani
project manager: thomas melliger – bauplanung, zürich
construction supervisor: devis Bruni and giulio cereghetti, mesocco
structural engineer: patrick gartmann (conzett bronzini gartmann AG, chur)
landscape architect: 4D AG landschaftsarchitekten, bern

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