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School center, Mottier, Switzerland

The local school in the Swiss town of Mottier has just been expanded by three additional buildings. The complex is grouped around the original building, and a photo façade makes a special statement.

Mottier is not far from the cantonal capital of Lausanne, surrounded by the rich green of the Swiss countryside. It’s not just the surroundings that are stimulating; the new buildings at the Mottier school center are also a place of inspiration.

The architects Graf & Rouault won a competition for the school center’s expansion in 2008 with their design ‘Three Dancers’. The design set out a complex of buildings with three new constructions. The first building was completed in 2012, and now houses special classes.

The interior is light, and characterized by visible concrete. Pupils and their teachers access classrooms via the central foyer. Teaching rooms feature plastered walls, light floors and wooden cabinets. All rooms include large windows with views of the Swiss countryside.

The external walls are also made of concrete. The façade features images by the French painter Edgar Degas as an eye-catching touch. The drawings were immortalized in the façade using photo engraving formliners by RECKLI. Degas’ dancers were first transformed into an image file for the CNC machine by computer. The machine then transferred the data onto board material, which acted as a positive model for the formliner. The formliner was then poured around this and left to dry before finally being used to imprint the concrete.

The formliner was painted with release agents and placed on the concrete. During the hardening process, the elastic formliner transferred the image onto the concrete; it could then be easily removed. Grooves milled at different depths allow the motif to appear in the concrete. The image may be more defined or almost “disappear” on the façade depending on the level of sunlight.

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