School in Sorens, Switzerland

Sorens is characterised by a coherent connection to the surrounding landscape with detached buildings strung along the Route Principale, running the full length of the village. The site for the new school in Sorens is distinctive for its placement on the edge between farmland and the more articulated space of the street.

To the East and South, the site holds clear views over the expanse of fields – dotted by agricultural buildings – towards Lac de la Gruyère at the foothills of the Alps. The North and West are defined by the village, with the higher lying fields and the forest of Le Gibloux as a backdrop.

Sitting in the slope towards the centre of the site and with its orientation being in accordance with that of the village, the placement ensures an expedient use of the grounds and an open view of the landscape for the neighbours residing towards West and Northwest.

The proposed volume takes its place within the simple and direct character of the buildings of the agricultural landscape, whereas the relief and rhythm in the facade seeks to compliment the more formal character of a civic building.

The building is organised on four levels with a generous ‘hall’ that holds varying views of the landscape at the middle.

Around the the central space each classroom is placed on a corner with windows in two directions ensuring sufficient natural daylight.

Large glazed openings to the central space allow glimpses across the floors from room to class to outside, such that the interior feels very open and full of the sum of everyone’s activity, underlining the feeling of community while allowing room for concentration.

The design is directed by a strategy of using linings and claddings that serve both an aesthetic and a functional purpose. An internal lining protects the walls where the wear is toughest and accommodates storage and seating. The external cladding serves to protect the joints in the prefabricated timber elements and the depth it gives to the facade shelters technical components such as sun shading and windows.

This direct form of construction and reduced set of materials reinforce the whole and create sufficient flexibility to accommodate the variations in structural spans and internal room dimensions required by the programme.

With our project we aspire to introduce a new and enriching addition to Sorens. A robust building that minutely attends to the functional requirements of a school while providing a meaningful connection to the culture, landscape and to the architectural tradition.


Location: Sorens, Switzerland
Status: Competition, Awarded Proposal
Gross Internal Area: 1900 m2
Materials: Concrete, Larch, Lime Plaster & Sheet Metal
Consultant: Architecte Linus Godet
Images:Kolman Boye Architects