After its destruction during the 2nd World War, the Wilhelm-Maybach School was rebuilt from 1953 to 1954 with a theory building, administration, assembly hall and workshops. In January 1955 it was brought back into operation as a technical college for mechanical engineering, foundry technology and motor vehicle handcraft. Today a vocational trade school is located here where young people are trained as industrial, model-construction and foundry mechanics and the entire range of training in motor vehicle handcraft is offered through to a school for master craftspeople.
Architecturally speaking, this is a typical post-war building – a steel framework lined with exposed brickwork, uninsulated, single-glazed, protected by a slender bitumen roof against rain - a solid and casually constructed single-sided arrangement of rooms from the corridor that retains something industrial about it and which radiates the unmistakable demure charm of its time.
The remit of the project was to plan an extension of this school with 11 classrooms, two EDP rooms, two student work rooms, along with a relaxation room, a parents’ consulting room, a meeting room and a teaching material room.
In order to implement the space allocation plan, three fundamentally different approaches were examined:
An extension built onto the school
A self-contained extension on a neighbouring green space
Additional storeys built onto the building
The direct extension built onto the school was dropped at a relatively early stage because of routes in the building being too long and because it would be very close to an existing railway line (noise nuisance).
A single-storey extension was discussed extensively amid great controversy up to a political level as this was by far the most cost-efficient alternative. Because of the less problematic execution of construction work, this alternative was initially favoured by the teachers also in view of the running of the school not being disrupted. The available plot area was however located within a fresh air corridor that leads to the centre of the Stuttgart basin and was identified in the land-use plan as a pure green space.
When the option of building an additional storey was examined it became clear relatively early on that, as is typical of buildings constructed during the fifties, work had been carried out without any static reserves in the original building, with a minimum of material strengths and concrete iron. Erecting a fourth storey directly onto the existing building would then have necessitated extensive measures to underpin and strengthen the fabric of the building below. Bracings and reinforcements would have been necessary across every storey right down to the foundations. All school activities would have had to be transferred elsewhere while the building work was being carried out.
It thus became clear that the only option that could be implemented at justifiable expense was one with its own supporting structure built virtually above the existing school. An admittedly somewhat futuristic approach which only becomes clear to the observer if he is aware of the planning history.
A balance now had to be reached between preserving sustained aspects of urban development such as the fresh air supply of a large city with the more complex and also more expensive addition of a storey, and a more cost-effective solution which would certainly have again blocked one of the important fresh air corridors into the Neckar valley. The city and the school administration office decided in favour of the more sustainable option, which then made the task too much for us in later planning to implement this to an extent that was compatible with architectural considerations.
Derived from the key area of training and the name of the school, we developed at an early stage the architectural outline of a “bodywork” which was to be parked or put down on the roof of the school. This bodywork in turn is braced onto the ground via long rods. To take the weight of the whole structure, the rods were inserted into the ground around the school like jackstraws to create a maximum degree of lightness. The new extension was to be spaced clearly away from the old building so that the specific nature of the latter is clearly visible.
For economic reasons the horizontal projection itself is designed with a two-sided arrangement of rooms from a central corridor, with skylights in the roof and corridor dividing-walls to avoid a dark central corridor. As a result it is bright enough here that very low-power lighting could be used enabling savings to be made in energy costs in operation.
To minimize the thickness of the supports and the dimensions of the foundations, the additional storey was designed as a light steel structure. In order to counteract at the same time the risk of a “barracks climate”, as can easily occur in pure lightweight constructions, a 12 cm thick concrete slab was laid on top of the lower steel girder grid and covered with a plaster floor as a storage mass, originally to be 8 cm but to meet the deadline was then only 6 cm thick. A night-time cooling system was created using electronically controlled ventilation flaps in the lower area of the coloured facing panels together with a simple exhaust air unit to quickly remove air that has warmed up during the day during hot periods in summer.
The completely detached design of the additional storey also enables it to be removed again in 15 or 20 years without any extensive work having to be carried out on the original building, so that the old Maybach School remains standing unaltered.
In view of the demographic development in the numbers of our students and in keeping with long-lasting solutions in school construction this is certainly an aspect that is worthy of mention.