New School Architecture

The American Institute of Architects San Francisco chapter has a fascinating exhibition in their gallery right now that asks how school design can help develop our citizens of tomorrow.

The exhibition, titled The State of Affairs: A New Architecture for a New Education, is based on a show presented in Zurich in 2004 that culled prime examples (largely from Austria, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia) of how architects can provide the best—which also means most flexible and adaptive—environment for learning.

At the AIA SF gallery opening, a representative from the school board in Zurich explained that "the values we communicate with our youngsters today are important because those children are the generation of tomorrow." The works on display at the exhibition, 31 in total, highlight those values. The Maeder "Eco School" in Austria by Baumschlager and Eberle Architects stresses the need to be sustainable and is powered by biomass. The Volta School in Basel by Miller and Maranta Architects has multi-purpose space for before and after school programs and emphasizes the importance of community.

It's not only the schools themselves that are different in Europe, but also the way students are housed. On a trip to Copenhagen last year we visited Orestad, a community that's been developed as one of a number of new towns along Copenhagen's recently completed subway extension. Here we saw the Tietgenkollegiet student residence for students at the IT University of Copenhagen.

The six-story building holds 360 apartments, is oriented in a way to promote resident interaction, and also comprises a computer area, assembly hall, laundry facilities, and music rooms. Imagine living in a place like this during college. It’s hard to imagine living somewhere this beautiful--even after college!

Obama promises that we'll have the world's highest high school graduation rate by 2020 but what do we need to do to reach that goal? We want to hear how you think schools and residences should be designed. Start the conversation below in our comments section.

To view the exhibit, visit the AIA SF at 130 Sutter Street, Suite 600, San Francisco. The gallery is free and open Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm. For more information, call 415-362-7397 or visit

Tietgenkollegiet image courtesy of YaHeEstado


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