Bétrix & Consolascio - Switzerland
Media Centre Cantonal School
Dorfstrasse 30, Küsnacht
1998 - 2001



In the park-like site of the Cantonal School Küsnacht the media center by Bétrix & Consolascio complements an existing series of buildings along the railway line.
The new building establishes a contrasting but calm relation to the existing constructions. The relation to the neighboring former gymnasium building,
which was
restored and rebuilt simultaneously, results in a slightly conical gap which serves the the students as an exterior space for staying.
The term "media centre" designates a library complemented by the today current electronic devices. But the needs of readers and the books are still considered to be centrally.
As a consequence tables and shelves are of major importance in the media centre. One of the guiding principles in this design was the two-storey gallery concept
of a traditional library. A spatial typology which is found in the monastery libraries, like those in Einsiedeln or in St.Gallen, and in the University Libraries.
The media centre makes reference to them through the peripheral arrangement of the two-story shelves. This resulted in two large interlocking rooms.
The question of introversion or openness of the library space was of exceptional importance for this design. At the beginning the architects conceived
the glass panels to be translucent, not transparent. At the same time, an elongated skylight should counduct all the light into the center of the room.
During the design process Bétrix & Consolascio discovered
the positive impact of the openings so that it became possible to eliminate the skylight,
and to dispense the intended glass screen printing. All this allowed to arrive at a more stringent solution. The transparent glass panels of the realized building
 intentionally do not represent windows, nor clear cut-out images of the landscape. They are the background for the books, and bring a changing daily
and seasonal lighting atmosphere into the room. At the same time, however, the uninterrupted succession of the frames surrounding the room,
the homogeneous type and the monochrome effect of the wood, create a balance as well as a concentration. Inside, the wooden shelves form the building,
they are no subsequently added furniture, they are the house itself. The construction principle of the bookshelves influenced the appearance of the entire building structure,
featuring closed end façades and completely transparent longitudinal facades. The projection of the upper floor protects the entrance area on the east side.
The projection of the base plate protects the tree roots on the west side, and emphasizes the autonomy of the building. The whole pavilion-like building was
realized as a lightwight construction, with exception of the base plate. On the outside the media centre appears as a wood and glass building with highly insulated facade and roof.