Plans were made in the town of Gera to establish a new, central location for the Goethe-Gymnasium (Grammar school), a secondary school with a long tradition which had been spread over several sites for decades. The municipality held a competition, soliciting architectural and open-space design proposals for the creation of a campus in the city centre. Two buildings already existed at the designated location: the historic school building – being used as such – and the listed former Reuss government building dating from 1720–22, which was to be renovated, expanded and incorporated into the new complex. The construction of a complementary new building and a gymnasium as well as the design of the outside area were also part of the competition.
The basic principle of the winning proposal was to highlight the typological and topographic characteristics of the Campus Rutheneum using the instruments of urban and landscape design. The proposed new building is a gentle extension of the government building, continued at an angle to create two schoolyards which are separated but visually connected thanks to the spacious foyer located between them. Aided by the new interpretation of the historic city wall facing the Reichsstrasse, a sequence of squares and yards at different levels is created with spatial proportions that correspond to those of the old town: Johannisplatz, the government building schoolyard, the campus square schoolyard and the city balcony within the government building, become open to the public.
All in all the proposal succeeds in enriching the city centre due to the harmonic, unobtrusive connection of the old and the new, consistent with the Rutheneum’s concept of carrying traditions and values over into contemporary education.
Landscape Architecture: POLA
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Schulz & Schulz Architekten GmbH
Project Location: Gera, Thüringen, Germany
Design year: 2016 – 2019
Year Built: 2021
Photographer: Hanns Joosten