architect eduard balcells, along with with ignasi rius and daniel tigges, reimagined the typical building facade and created multiple inhabitable spaces within the facade of the waldorf school el til-ler (the linden tree) outside of barcelona, spain. the architects, together with the parents and teachers, aimed to embody a contemporary expression of the waldorf-steiner pedagogy in a mediterranean context, giving the school specific spatial qualities. the facade evolves from a flat surface into an inhabited space, the classroom turns into a house and the school becomes a small village along a rambla, the mediterranean equivalent to a pedestrian main street.

the two-story buildings provide a more urban scale towards the rambla, where the common spaces are directly accessed from.



by recycling five buildings previously found on the school’s old sites, the architects inserted the school into a large, mature and abandoned private garden in the neighborhood of bellaterra. the complex is articulated along the existing main access path, which become a rambla that ends at a square opening towards the surrounding landscape. this provides spectacular views of the neighboring mountains and local nature. 

access bridge to each kindergarten classroom, which provides a transition between the playground and classroom and also becomes a space for outdoor activities.



the five reused buildings were disassembled, transported and precisely reconfigured at the new site. the buildings were placed along the hilly landscape, on three terraces amidst the slopes, that provide ideal views and circulation through them. in addition to the reused buildings, a new one was designed to hold the kindergarten and the common spaces. 

interior of kindergarten’s classroom. at the center, organizing the classroom, the alcove with the seasonal table lit in natural light.



to adapt the waldorf-steiner pedagogy to a mediterranean climate, there are no interior corridors since access to all classrooms follow a gradual exterior-to-interior spatial sequence. from the rambla or the main path connecting all spaces, students go into separate courtyards, then through a porch to the receiving hall of each classroom.

interior of kindergarten’s classroom. detail of the alcoves – the façade as inhabited space.



the landscape views vary from one room to the next, visually expanding the horizon as the child grows and moves through the different classrooms. the rotation of the classrooms on the topography gives them varying light qualities, both in intensity and color. sequences, horizons and light personalize each classroom, providing different experiences for the children.

eurythmics hall interior. as eurythmics requires concentration, alcoves are formed by low windows that provide intimacy from the activity of the upper level kindergarten’s playground.



the new building houses the kindergarten at the first floor and the common spaces at the ground floor, freeing the plan from columns and concentrates them at the facades. they become thick buttresses, making it possible to place the kindergarten classrooms inside column-free multi-purpose halls. the spaces between the buttresses become alcoves that are shaped according to the functional and pedagogical needs of each space. on the outside, the alcoves are contained within frames, bringing a rhythmic aesthetic to the facade.

detail of alcove in the kindergarten classroom.



the waldorf pedagogy’s ‘seasonal table’ inside each kindergarten classroom becomes a central element in the space. a small altar where the cycles of nature are explained, is placed focally within an alcove that provides natural light.

the columns are integrated in the facades and become thick buttresses with alcoves that are shaped according to both pedagogical and functional needs.



to create passive climatic comfort and at the same time optimize the budget, the architects chose wood fiber panels with thermal insulation as the main material. this, along with the inertia of the massive concrete structure, eliminate the need for heating in winter. during the summer, the facades can be open to provide natural cross-ventilation in the spaces.

detail of the alcove housing the seasonal table – the small altar to nature typical in waldorf pedagogy.



the compact volumes, easy assembly of the concrete structure and wood facades, and the construction material’s natural treatment made it possible for the architects to build the school using a limited budget. however, the astute design and clever organization of the spaces in the landscape make for an educational complex that feels like a familiar 

new building for kindergarten and common spaces building seen from the kindergarten’s playground, where each kindergarten classroom is accessed by a bridge that, in time, will be covered to form a porch.



this project was selected in the FAD architecture prize 2019.



transversal section showing the inhabited facades as alcoves both in the kindergarten (upper floor) and common spaces with eurythmics hall (lower floor).



project info:


project name: waldorf school el til-ler barcelona

location: bellaterra, barcelona, spain

year built: 2017

project type: urban configuration, landscape strategy, architectural design

architects: eduard balcells, ignasi rius, daniel tigges

collaborators: manuel romero, elisabeth terrise (architects), jordi bernuz (structural egineering), projectic (mechanical and services engineering), factors de paistage/ manuel colominas (landscape consultancy)

photography: adria goula

client: el til-let waldorf-school



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: cristina gomez | designboom