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 slabsseem 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 qualitiesof 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 2011use: schoolhouse and kindergartenclient: comune politico di 6537 gronoarchitect: raphael zuber, churcollaborators: david gianinazzi, kosuke yutaniproject manager: thomas melliger – bauplanung, zürichconstruction supervisor: devis Bruni and giulio cereghetti, mesoccostructural engineer: patrick gartmann (conzett bronzini gartmann AG, chur)landscape architect: 4D AG landschaftsarchitekten, bern

  • Lou Kahn would be proud to see this. It is encouraging that someone is actually following his legacy. Wonderful project.

    Kenneth von Roenn says:
  • Beautiful. I thought of Kahn too. What an inviting learning environment, and situated so elegantly at the center of a community. Love the warm brown color of concrete.

    Mort D'Urban says:
  • <3

    juliano says:
  • superb! kahn and lloyd wright many evocations stunningly resolved. well done

    nicola loder says:
  • sono perplesso….non mi convince molto oltretutto con il tetto piatto…..sfido a rivederla questa costruzione fra 50 anni

    sergio says:

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