The site is an hourglass of land tucked behind the rear yards of surrounding residences. The entry is on Cotter, set back and expanding the street into a public plaza and drop-off area. The façade is a sloped green wall, a hill, behind which the school is arranged as a series of detached structures in the landscape, perforated with open courts and strung along a walkway in the form of a golden bridge.
One side of the bridge are classrooms, the other, common spaces, arranged on two levels. At the center is a large multi-purpose room which opens to courts on three sides. This is the heart, a space both open and closed, where the golden bridge intersects on both levels as a walkway and gallery.
All the roofs are green and all the vertical walls gardens, and the courts landscaped and panted with trees. The school buildings occupy the front part of the site; behind the landscape is a shifting gradient transforming from cultivated orchards to gridded beds to natural shrubbery to primal grasslands and ponds.
This building and landscape are about teaching the values of Waldorf Education, not just about making spaces for teaching, but the presence and material, the object and land itself, being part of the pedagogy. This building is an instrument for teaching, a landscape of learning.
Waldorf schools have a long tradition of beautiful architecture, and in our time, that means architecture which connects land and people, grows out of the site, is the site. It is as much about the buildings presence as absence, a porous and open field of spaces to shelter and expose, to assemble and disperse, to contain and set free.
This is a building which is both integrated with nature and works in harmony with nature, absorbing sunlight, collecting water, growing and changing with the seasons, a building which is alive, a building which is a garden.
This is a world where the imagination and common sense of children can be nurtured and grow, where their creative and analytical abilities can flourish, where the artistic and intellectual can merge, where they can be part of a learning community that teaches to become unique and civil members of society. Source and Images Courtesy of Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects.
Article by Marco Rinaldi