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Uetikon School

Rehabilitation of an industrial site transformed into a school, on the banks of Lake Zurich.

The site of Uetikon am See was strongly marked by the industrialization of the early 19th century. Traces of the industrial past are omnipresent: railway tracks and metal walkways punctuate the site. In this large complex, two emblematic buildings stand out: the furnaces and the power station.

The project aims to enhance this historic site by transforming it into a school: a place for meetings and experimentation related to education and culture.

Our proposal is based on two main principles:

  • the development of a large park on the banks creating interactions between the city, the lake and the school.
  • the conservation of the emblematic buildings and their enhancement.
Client : Canton of Zurich
Location : Uetikon, Suisse
Surface : 23 600 m²
Status : Competition
Date : 2021
Key points
  • Hybrid wood-concrete structure.
  • Flexibility of spaces.
  • Education.
  • Industrial heritage.
  • Change of use.


The Kantonsschule and the Berufsfachschule are located side by side on the lakefront, one in the kiln buildings, the second in a new 5-story building. The two schools thus benefit in a balanced way from the presence of the park and the exceptional views of the lake and the landscape. Together with the Fertilizer building, they form a strong ensemble of public buildings, affirming the new identity of the site.
A new building to the north of the site is dedicated to the KUE sports activities. A parking lot is located on the lower level and allows for the concentration of automobile flows outside the schools’ exterior spaces. The exterior space is freed up, encouraging autonomy and appropriation of the site in an open and protected living environment.


The existing materials (brick, steel, wood) and the archaeological traces of the industrial buildings in the buildings, on the walls or on the ground are preserved as much as possible.
The use of glass in the facades and interiors favors transparency and exchange. It reveals and protects the original wooden structures and allows light to enter the interior spaces.
Wood is omnipresent in new buildings and extensions. It is used in the main structure of buildings, it is displayed in the structure of the facades; it defines the identity of the project. Its lightness and its soft materiality dialogue with the existing and brings a warm and contemporary atmosphere by contrast with the materials left raw of the brick and the metal.

The cantonal school "Kantonsschule" (KUE)

The MINT, General Education and Art and Music are organized on three levels in the furnace buildings. Sports are located on the north side, beyond the facade of the power plant.
The teachers’ preparation rooms and the staff room are centrally located and open to the outside and the harbor.
The specific spaces of each of the sectors that are intended to receive the public (Experimentation Hall, Workshop, Art Workshop) are positioned on the entrance façade and open onto the park. They are easily accessible to the public either from the ground floor or from level 1 from the footbridge.

All the sectors are connected by two wide interior streets that cross the building from north to south and offer the possibility of multiple work and meeting spaces for the students. These spaces can be freely arranged as work areas or for more informal discussions. These walkways offer a transversal path between the spaces and functions, and allow varied visual sequences to the lake.

The circulation of the classrooms is equipped with large hoppers that allow light to enter the center of the large halls and make the levels communicate with each other visually.
The double-height hall allows the original structure to be discovered as soon as it is entered. It is directly connected to the large courtyard whose geometry is preserved.
The new extensions on the bridge above the courtyard create protected outdoor spaces.

The vocational school "Berufsfachschule" (BZZ)

The program of the Vocational School is developed on 5 levels. Centrally located between the Fertilizer building and the Cantonal School, it integrates in its volume the elements of the program of the premises common to both schools and the Aula.

The teaching rooms are organized on two levels. The central space between the rooms is dedicated to the Gruppenraum and to relaxation areas for the students.

The Aula is located under the sloping garden. It is the interface between the KUE and the BZZ and is also directly accessible to the public from the forecourt.

The media library welcomes users from the sloping garden through a double-height space that is largely open to the historic facades of the KUE and the lake.

The Mensa, accessible from the same level, offers an exceptional panoramic location for the two schools but also for the entire site.

Opening on the site - A large landscaped park

The footbridge

The footbridge connects the Alte Lande Strasse to the site for users coming from the station, but also Uetikon to the lake shore. It is designed as a large promenade. It provides a continuous, gently sloping walkway that is accessible to all.
Its generous width offers a quality public space, supporting vegetation, animation and outdoor exhibitions. Its sculptural design makes it a singular object, clearly distinguishing itself from the buildings while allowing the different entrances and buildings to be linked together.

A sloping garden - auditorium on the lake

The footbridge lands on a sloping garden that allows you to reach the water’s edge, or to linger on the top to enjoy the views. The sloping garden also allows a natural path from the square to the media library and the Mensa.

The landscape

The landscape project is based on the theme of The landscaping project unfolds around the theme of “crossing”, the meeting of eras, materials and uses. It allows the pedestrian to be immersed in a station universe where each sub-space becomes a small station. Each of them leads the user to an activity, whether sporting, educational or contemplative.
The alternation of vegetated or mineralized strips reminds the rhythm of the rails, which run side by side in an infinite perspective; or cross each other to bring the gaze towards another direction... towards the past or the future.

A sustainable design

The enhancement of the structure is a major focus in the design of the building. Allowing the structure to magnify the project over the long term is also a key objective. Each wood element is then housed within the building envelope. A secondary structure is used to support the double skin. The continuous envelope does not generate any thermal bridges, which reinforces the environmental performance of the project.

The concept of sustainability also touches the external environment of the project, the design process is based on a global and controlled vision of the wood sector. Wood materials such as CLT and glued laminated timber are engineered materials that allow the use of local resources whose transformation can be assured.

Connection to urban heating networks

The nearby presence of a hydrothermal power plant fed by the lake offers us a great opportunity to address the issue of energy supply for the heating station. The proximity with this production allows to limit the connection cost and to be supplied with heat via a heat exchanger system requiring a less important technical space. The maintenance of this installation is also simplified. The power needed to supply the site is provided by the urban heating network.

Solar panels

The solar production is ensured by the presence of photovoltaic solar panels located on the roofs of the BZZ buildings and the sports facility. The solar panels represent 70% of the roof surface.

Green roofs

The development of vegetated surfaces through the creation of the park is completed by the vegetation of all the flat roofs of the project. This contributes to the improvement of the atmosphere of the site, by increasing the feeling of freshness and improving the water cycle. A terrace garden is also created on the Sport Building. This garden, an extension of a balcony overlooking the sports halls, is accessible during special events.


Patriarche (Architecture, Interior architecture, MEP Engineering, EBQ, Cost, BIM)


Lemon consult


3D pictures: ©Patriarche