Schul-und Stadtteilbibliothek Gustav-Heinemann Gesamtschule

Along the School Boulevard

Gustav Heinemann Comprehensive School, Essen

Energieeffizienzpreis NRW
GHGS - Heinze Nominierung
GHGS - BDA Essen

Essen-Schonnebeck is a former mining district in the north of Essen. The neighbourhood is characterised by large-scale residential developments and soaring winding towers in between, which make the observer constantly remember that a large network of shafts and mines is hidden beneath the entire district. How do the region and the district successfully change from a workers’ housing estate to a modern residential quarter? The Zollverein Coal Mine that is within sight provides an answer. The Ruhr Museum attracts almost half a million visitors a year (in non-pandemic times) and represents a significant landmark for the region’s structural change. Our Gustav Heinemann Comprehensive School will give another answer. Essen’s most outstanding school building project will be an attractive place for pupils and teachers, but also for the residents of the Schonnebeck district – as the City of Essen states on its website.

The overall building volume of the Gustav Heinemann Comprehensive School in Essen was broken down into differentiated section. The stringent structure has resulted in clearly defined outdoor spaces on the school campus. The offset positioning of the individual building sections ensures a scaled integration into the urban context. The offset of the two southern building parts creates a clearly recognisable entrance zone, which, with its forecourt, represents the prelude and identity of the new school grounds.

Seitenfassade der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
Gustav-Heinemann Gesamtschule
Gustav-Heinemann Gesamtschule
Seitenfassade der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
Fassade des Innenhofs der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.

The clear exterior structure is continued in the interior. The structuring of the architectural figure reflects the organisation inside the building. Theme-based families of rooms are grouped into building units and interconnected via a central circulation axis. The forecourt as a meeting point and prelude to the building merges smoothly into the two-storey forum. The forum is a versatile, communicative space for all kinds of events. It is the beating heart of the school. The school hall and the library are arranged around the central forum and complete the southern part of the new school building, which is dedicated to communal uses. The central axis stretching in a north-south direction, the “school boulevard”, ensures easy and clear orientation and connects the individual functional areas with each other. The alternating arrangement of the cluster units results in a varied and well-lit circulation throughout the building. On the ground floor, interior and exterior spaces interlock in a variety of ways: the schoolyard connects spaciously with the school building, while the multi-purpose room and the canteen have directly assigned outdoor areas that can be used independently of each other; the arts and crafts area includes a work yard.

Gustav-Heinemann Gesamtschule Vorderseite
Treppe der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
Ein Klassenraum in der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen. Ein Klassenraum in der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.

The new building is finished with a robust masonry façade made of light-coloured, whitewashed facing bricks, which gives the building masses a calming, uniform appearance. The strict order of large window elements in wood-aluminium construction divides the upper-floor façades of the classrooms and science labs. In the interior, too, the atmosphere is enhanced by the selective use of wood-based materials. In addition to the materials just mentioned, the purposeful use of daylight and colour ensures a pleasant atmosphere and good orientation. Large window openings, inner courtyards and the generously glazed entrance areas allow daylight to reach deep into the building and optimal natural lighting. The colour scheme was planned as an integral component. To this end, we used Le Corbusier’s colour collection from 1959. Based on Polychromie Architecturale, we chose five harmonising shades. Each was assigned to a cluster and translated into large pictograms, colour-accentuated entrances and stairways. This not only generates a welcoming atmosphere, but also makes it easy for everyone to find their way around the building.

Wand des Foyers der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
Mensa der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen. Mensa der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
Ein Klassenraum in der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
Gang der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen. Verwaltungsbereich der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.

The building was planned and built according to passive house construction, which means that it remains 20% below the requirements of the 2016 German Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV). Following the recent completion, the certification process according to the Assessment System for Sustainable Building (BNB), which also played a major role during the planning, will take place. The aim is to achieve a BNB Silver certification. In addition to energy efficiency, other topics such as ecology, economic efficiency, socio-cultural added value, architectural quality and process quality are also taken into account in this certification – the criteria of the sehw sustainability compass. The result is an energy-efficient, sustainable building for which all phases, from planning to construction and operation to deconstruction, have been optimally designed.

Even before its completion, the project was awarded several prizes and highlighted in best practice publications. For example, sehw received the BUILD AWARD Best Educational Facility Design – Germany for this project in 2017 and the NRW state government’s award as an Energy-efficient Non-residential Building in 2020, and it was featured in LOGbuch No.1 of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Heidelberg.

Ein Klassenraum in der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
Schulstraße der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen. Gang in der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
Tür und Fenster-Detail in der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
Schulstraße der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen. Schulstraße der Gustav-Heinemann-Gesamtschule in Essen.
  • Project type

    New construction

  • Purpose


  • GFA

    18,610 m²

  • Project status

    Completed 2021

  • Period

    2015 – 2021

  • Procurement


  • Awards

    1. Price competition

  • Shortlist

    Heinze AWARD

  • Anerkennung

  • Construction cost

    56,800,000 €

  • Service phases

    1 – 8 (HOAI)

  • Project team

    Matthias Gall
    Maija Gavare
    Karoline Hietzschold
    Martin Krüger-Holdack
    Víctor Maquílon Yelo
    Eva Poggenklaß
    Thomas Reinke
    Birgit Winkelmann