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MORE ABOUT: Blumen Primary School and Bernhard Rose School – Berlin, Germany

Architect: Huber Staudt Architekten

Structural Engineer: Reinhard Damm

Although these two buildings were built in 1965 during the period of Communist rule in East Germany, their new, innovative facades have become a precedent for environmental and energy-saving approaches across the nation.  The buildings designed and erected by architect Huber Staudt Architekten and structural engineer Reinhard Damm remain intact, but have been enhanced by a rhythmic thermal insulation system.  This curtain-wall façade was not only energy conservative, but also represented  an aesthetically warmer and more artistic solution.  The form of urban architecture represented by these schools was replicated on other school buildings across East Germany.


Because of material shortages and restricted capacities, the structure of the schools follows the standard set by many buildings built during Communist rule of simple concrete construction and few details.  Between the 1960s and the 1980s, some 2,500 schools were built, following this same structural design of pre-cast concrete units assembled on-site.  As seen by the floor plans below, the classrooms were designed in a rigid modular pattern.

The long rectangular shape is maintained by three rows of columns which follow the corridor on both sides and do not interrupt the square classroom spaces.

Roof Assembly

The roof structure of the schools was designed to drain to the center of the building.  As shown in the exterior wall section below, the titanium-zinc sheet capping slanted inward, drawing water away from the façade.  The relatively flat roof consists of concrete beams below a thick layer of polystyrene rigid foam insulation encased in anodized aluminum.

Outer Wall Assembly

The perimeter concrete beams and columns are wrapped in a layer of insulation, then a concrete wall, and finally another layer of insulation with 1mm sheet-metal covering.  Another important detail of the out wall section shown above is the adjustable sun screen, rolled up above the window and concealed in the aluminum window sill.   In an effort to add visual interest to the schools without detracting from the sound structure and functionality of the building, the new façade was designed.  This addition protected the structure and insulation of the walls while diversifying the school’s uniform building type and is described in further detail below.

Special Feature – Rainscreen Addition

The façade addition to the original structure is composed of aluminum RHSs in different sizes and lenths and anodized in different colors.  Between this new outer rainscreen and the outer metal covering of the wall is 120mm of ventalation space and a thin, moisture diffusing membrane.  The strips are attached to the structure by metal hooks drilled through the insulation to the concrete.  Althought the rainscreen addition prevents the majority of rain from hitting the surface of the structure, the moisture diffusing membrane insures that absolutely no water penetrates to the insulation.  The different tones articulated in each aluminum strip of the rainscreen add depth to the building while being cheaper than a wood alternative.  The lightweight skin is fastened onto the structure and protects the wall from weather erosion.

The pattern of the strips, as shown below, helps to individualize the building and allow different amounts of light and views into each classroom space.  The areas near the courtyard space have fewer strips over the windows, and areas closer to another building have more to prevent views.


“Blumen Primary School and Bernhard Rose School in Berlin.” Detail. 2009. 4. p 894-902.

Written by Caroline Hunt

January 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized