Gion A. Caminada
Mädcheninternat Kloster Disentis
A COMMUNITY OF YOUNG PERSONALITIES
Although, up till now, Gion Caminada has built primarily in wood, he also remains true to his architecture when he builds in stone, architecture that is powerful and plastic, and above all true-to-life, characterised by precise reflections on the programme and on the social, and thus political, responsibility involved.
The new building for a boarding school is designed for young women between the ages of 14 and 18 who are pupils at the monastery in Disentis. The leitmotif of the architecture is the compromise between independence and communal life that is characteristic of life in a boarding school. The building is located in the heart of the village looking onto the village square and the monastery at the rear. Although it is integrated and embedded in the village, its massive-looking volume lays claim to a certain unusual and autonomous quality. In the interior, each storey has a group of living premises with their own entrance and common room that face a different direction in each case. But in the heart of each of these “apartments” there is a massive, plastically designed core of a material called “Disentis brown concrete” which continues throughout the whole building and physically and symbolically connects the individual floors. The single rooms are well-protected retreats with specially designed windows that permit intensive contact with the outside world.
The plasticity of the architecture with its extensive elements helps to dovetail the different sectors and form intermediate spaces, thereby creating areas between retreat and socialising. This is true of the common rooms of the groups of living premises which represent a new interpretation of the traditional suler houses, as well as of the entrance areas and, above all, of the window niches in the bedrooms. These have a counterpart in the common rooms, for the stone backbone of the house has a niche on each floor large enough to seat a small group of people: a fireside bench. This is a place for friendship, and it is no coincidence that these niches are clad in solid brass panels that give the area a golden glow.