German School Stiehle Cuenca

German School Stiehle Cuenca

German School Stiehle Cuenca

German School Stiehle Cuenca

Project TypeInvited competition, 1st prize
CLientColegio Alemán Stiehle de Cuenca
PlaceCuenca Ecuador
Project TeamAnna Popelka, Georg Poduschka, Petra De Colle, Jakub Dvorak, Valerie Assmus, Maximilian Bertl
ExcerptIn the middle of the southern Ecuadorian Andes right away from the city Cuenca - UNESCO World Cultural Capital - PPAG are building the German School Stiehle.

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A World of Children – Parents don’t come inside, queridos!

What does a school in the 21st century look like at the transition to the knowledge society? In a rural area in Ecuador. At 2600m altitude. On a slope with 56m gradient. Climate-friendly … The school of the 21st century is open and unique at the same time. We do not know today how we will learn tomorrow, everything imaginable should be possible. We want to build regionally reasonable, but with international standards. High tech and low tech, new and old at the same time.

We take the topography and work with it.

The space is kept as good as possible in its sensation, the slope of the property is understood as an opportunity for the formulation of an exciting sequence of rooms, terraces and views. Each room has the best view of the valley, to Cuenca, while enjoying direct access to the open space.

The entire system is nonhierarchical, a democratic space that represents equal opportunities for every child.

The relational space refers to the life in the spaces, to the use, to the effects that result from overlapping usage. The shortcuts are used by everybody – as well children as educators. What arises is real life communication! The identity of the school, the strength of the appearance, comes from the charisma of this commonality.


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The property is the resource: water, energy, earth are used. Like the building itself it is as well teaching material as teaching tool.

There is as few movement of the terrain as possible, excavation is re-introduced at the property. Only the classes, subject rooms and offices get thermal covers. Everything else, even the learning landscapes are covered and protected outdoor spaces. The low sweeping roofs above the classrooms and the higher connecting areas keep out rain and sun, they let light into the depths of the rooms and allow air circulation. Unwanted sun is held by light measures such as curtains. Rainwater is held by the ‘communicating’ roofs.

The potential of the climate is maximized which makes it possible to design an all-season outdoor school. Only the areas in need of rest such as the core group classrooms in closed rooms (with doors, windows …) are accommodated. The surfaces of the “learning landscapes” are open air covered terraces. This also saves a bit of construction volume. The cluster spaces often extend over several levels. On the one hand, the classes belonging to a cluster area, on the other hand, the learning environment is often distributed over several communicating levels.

Each room has direct access to the open space and a view of the valley to Cuenca!

From the top to the very bottom:

The School Path

From the top to the very bottom: The School Street

The School Street leads in serpentines from the top to the very bottom. It structures the property and assigns its place to each use. It opens up the property barrier-free and suitable for wheelchairs with a maximum of 10% gradient. It is also used during the school holidays as a path of facility management (cleaning, refuse, distribution). The School Street is characterized by the uses attached to it: At the nursery school there is a mud and sand play area, passing by the music room you can hear a well-known song – what was that melody again? , the path widened to a table tennis court and so on … … and there are shortcut paths with greater incline which connect the turns of the way with each other. For example, along the northern boundary of the property, where such a culvert connects some pedagogical areas. … and there are secret paths, for example between two double clusters. A trouble-free way through more private spheres. The School Street is not a barrier. On the contrary it connects the uses across the street. It is a kind of social bond that is shaped at the individual sections by the different adjacent user groups and is dedicated to the contact between them.

Fragments of elements, levels, retaining walls, rain – there is a lot to think about and continue building – thinking about finishing the space: “This will be my submarine!”

The individual functions are arranged logically along the school path down the slope.

The school path that meanders down the slope is connected by numerous short cuts to a narrow network of paths. At the top, on Via Paccha there is the prestigious entrance with the Sala Dedicada and the Stiehle Museum. Right behind there is the creative area. The public part of the administration is easy to find here as well. The Puerta 2 allows the parents of the smallest ones (kindergarten and pre-kindergarten) to pass the entire kindergarten area. There are also parking lots for this purpose. Even the big ones can enter the area from here. Teacher’s, visitor’s and athlete’s parking is located along the northern boundary of the property. The road over the neighboring property past the Puerta1 opens up the area a little deeper: here you just come to the access area between kindergarten and primary school and the (now more central 😉 Plaza Central. Here, the busetas bring and pick up the children. There is room to enjoy the time of waiting. With the parking spaces located here, larger extracurricular needs can be covered. Generally: strategic location of the sport is well accessible from the street and well provided with parking lots. Many small decentralized sports areas are scattered all over the property. The parking lots are not present despite the amount from the Paccha. The school is visible! The kindergarten has a long flat space between the two double cluster spaces. Down the slope the primary school is in between the membrane as a hinge. Then there is the secondary school 1 and finally – noise protected at the end -there is thesecondary school 2. Here is the end of the school road – for now – connections to existing roads would be pleasing, but are not necessary. Again and again references are drawn up: from primary and secondary school to the outside, to the heart, from primary school and above all secondary school to the science and technology space – form team areas of the individual school levels to each other. The order can be found in many details: soil changes with different tiling show low threshold areas.