A Built School Utopia

architects PPAG Architects
project Sonnwendviertel Education Campus, Vienna, Austria
written by Isabella Marboe


Education is a permanent topic of Austrian internal politics. The idea of a joint school for all pupils aged 10 to 14 generates intense discussions between its supporters and its opponents. To be prepared for the future, children need to develop characteristics such as free thinking, curiosity, desire to learn, social intelligence, creativity. It is very difficult to acquire such abilities by the usual method of frontal teaching. Learning is very individual, so modern pedagogy puts personal resources and talents of the children first. The issue of space is also important for their development. Traditional standardized classroom of 7 m x 9 m, with standardized school furniture and obligatory lavatory, can hardly adapt to free forms of learning. Children should not spend a whole day in such a classroom; so many Austrian pupils spend their afternoons in day care institutions or classrooms specialised for spending free time.