Secondary School and Hall, Klaus (AT)

The new secondary school and the hall were built in two phases at an interval of ten years. The spatial concept of the L-shaped building comprises three main functions: School, sports hall and library. After a record time of only 18 months, the school was completed in 2003. Constructed in timber, it is the first school in Austria to meet the strict passive house guidelines. Ten years later, a new multifunctional hall replaced the gym. Advanced planning strategies, such as compact organization of the program and prefabrication allowed for an accelerated schedule and optimized costs, while adhering to the high quality design and standards.


Urban Context

The school is part of a sparsely developed urban network with a mix of commercial and single-family residential buildings. Located directly on the main road, this exposed location required a strong and clear building structure that sets a landmark. The L-shaped building is slightly removed from the street and its wide south façade defines the forecourt. The two-story glazed connecting wing acoustically shields the classrooms and the playground from the street.

Client: Gemeinde Klaus
Location: A-6833 Klaus, Treietstraße 17
Architecture: Dietrich | Untertrifaller
Project management: Peter Nußbaumer, Isabella Pfeiffer
Competition: 2001
Construction: 2013-2014 / 2002-2003
Area: 6,940 m²
Ecology: Passiv house standard
Capacity: 250 students / 600 visitors

Awards: National Award for Architecture and Sustainability; Timber Construction Award Vorarlberg; Energy Globe Vorarlberg

site management: Gmeiner, Schwarzach / statics concrete: gbd, Dornbirn; Mader + Flatz, Bregenz / statics timber: Pock, Spittal; Merz Kaufmann Partner, Dornbirn / HAVCR: Team GMI, Dornbirn; Synergy, Dornbirn / electronics: Hecht, Rankweil / building physics: Team GMI, Schaan; Weithas, Hard / acoustics: Brüstle, Dornbirn / landscape: Rotzler Krebs, Winterthur; Heinrich, Winterthur

builder: Wilhelm + Mayer, Götzis / timber construction: Dobler, Röthis (Hall); ARGE Berlinger + Sohm, Alberschwende (School) / metal construction: Böhler, Feldkirch / windows: Manahl, Bludenz-Bings / electrics: Decker, Weiler / heating-sanitary: Stolz, Bludenz / locksmith: Klocker, Dornbirn / furniture: Lenz-Nenning, Dornbirn (Hall); KLEDU Möbelwerk, Koblach (School)

Photos: © Bruno Klomfar, © David Matthiessen

2018 | 06 DBZ Sport- & Mehrzweckhalle Klaus | 2017 | 04 Mikado Schule & Halle Klaus | 02 Esquisses École & Hall Klaus | 2016 | 11 l’Achitecture d’aujourd’hui N 415 Sport- & Mehrzweckhalle Klaus | 10 zuschnitt 63 Sport- & Mehrzweckhalle Klaus | 06 DA daylight & architekture Sport- & Mehrzweckhalle Klaus | 06 AIT Sport- & Mehrzweckhalle Klaus | 00 architekttura&design Schule & Halle Klaus

Three-Part Organization

The school building accommodates the regular and special classrooms and the administrative offices, separated by a three-story atrium, which spans the length of the building and brings light down to the ground floor. Footbridges providing access to the classrooms rhythmically interrupt the atrium, lit from above. This simple but spatially appealing structure is on the one hand rooted in the logics of economy; on the other hands it is a result of the sophisticated structure crafted from wooden elements, the material of choice that helped to achieve such short construction times.

The slender, elevated connecting wing between the school and the hall houses the two-story auditorium, the covered entrance and break area, as well as the communal library on the upper floor.

In the hall, the two-story sports hall and the three-story multi-purpose area also provide rooms for day care, clubs and events. The five-meter-high gymnastics room offers plenty of space for smaller events. Above is the rehearsal room for the local music club. The southern part of the building houses the large double gymnasium, located about three meters below the ground level. To the west, a long window band opens the sports hall to the school forecourt, offering good views of the activities below. The spacious foyer on the ground floor and the gallery on the upper floor allow insights into the sports hall and the gymnastics room as well as the rehearsal room.


Trend-Setting Design

Access bridges lead to the classrooms in the floor-to-ceiling atrium and provide communicative circulation.

The circulation areas of the central section are divided into small spaces between the footbridges by skylights and tall lockers, thus transforming the long corridor into a lively meeting place during breaks. The glass balustrades of the footbridges enhance the transparency of this space and enliven everyday life at school with various views.


The oiled birch panels in the interior and the maple doors create an atmosphere of wellbeing. The bright classrooms benefit on the east side from the skylights of the middle zone.

External sun protection prevents glare and heat build-up. A low band of inward placed glass panes under the high windowsill ensures that there is still enough view.

The water habitat serves as a fire protection pond and is part of a specific fire control concept.

Sophisticated Solar Shading

The fully glazed south façade of the connecting structure is clad with perforated copper sheeting for sun protection. The perforation of 30 percent provides visual protection from the outside like a light curtain, but allows a view of the Alpine panorama from the inside.

At dusk, the effect of the cladding is reversed: The brightly lit rooms can be seen from the outside yet the outside view is restricted.

Multipurpose Hall with striking Ceiling

The heart of the multi-purpose building is the three-story sports hall with its striking ceiling of wood-clad truncated pyramids. A total of 56 skylights are installed with a side length of four meters and a depth of three meters, which are inclined at different angles and offset to each other. In this way they make optimum use of direct light irradiation and provide the entire playing field with uniform daylight. Delicate pole luminaires are inserted into the ridges ceiling soffit to provide sufficient illumination in the evening hours. The sports hall can easily accommodate up to 300 spectators on its seven extendable telescopic grandstands.
The pyramid stumps were prefabricated in the factory, ...
... brought to the construction site by special transporters …
... and finally inserted and mounted into the ceiling grid.

Attractive Facade Structure

The entire structure has an outer shell of finger-jointed white fir slats. The south façade is totally closed towards the street. The attractive structure of rectangular shapes with varying slat distances, neatly separated by aluminum drip edges, livens up the large surface. In contrast, a "curtain" of wooden slats hangs in front of the glazed north façade. To the east and west, the façade shows a jointless wood paneling with generous glazing.

The spacious foyer on the ground floor and the gallery on the upper floor offer an insight into the sports hall, the gymnastics room as well as the rehearsal room.

Resource-saving Construction

Above ground, the entire school was built as a highly insulated lightweight wood construction, according to passive house guidelines. Only the bracing cores are made of reinforced concrete. The prefabrication of the box girder elements, the quick assembly, the absence of complex pile foundations and drying times enabled the tight schedule of 18 months. The water habitat in front of the classroom wings serves as a fire protection pond and is part of a specific fire control concept.

Like the school, the hall – apart from the access core and the components touching the ground – is made of timber with a supporting structure of glulam beams. The hall is built around a bracing reinforced concrete core that accommodates the access and the functional rooms. The handling of materials throughout the building is very pure and straightforward: everything that is built with wood is also clad with wood, concrete remains concrete and plasterboard remains plasterboard.


This project proves, that sustainable and ecological construction is absolutely compatible with high architectural standards. Thanks to controlled ventilation and an optimized outer shell, the building achieves a total energy consumption of less than 15 kWh/m² per year. It is the first school building in Vorarlberg to meet the strict passive-house standards. As a successful pioneer work, the school received several architecture and energy-saving awards, including the National Award for Architecture and Sustainability.

Aged in dignity

Even after almost 20 years, the school is still visually and functionally at its peak. Together with the multi-purpose hall, which was completed 10 years later, it forms a homogeneous ensemble that blends naturally into the small-scale rural surroundings.