The picturesque mountainous region of Gordola, Switzerland serves as both the site and inspiration for the striking SSIC vocational school. Designed by Durisch Nolli Architects, the structure mimics the surrounding landscape while coinciding with the industrial architecture of the region. The resulting school is a series of flexible workspaces, designed to maximize natural light.
The school serves as a training center for future stars of the building industry. It houses drafting studios, wood shops, and classrooms, and also has an outdoor teaching area.
Since the area is located in a valley and prone to flooding, the entire school is built on a raised platform. A series of concrete stilts raise the platform and the building complex up off the ground. This stilt system also minimizes the building's environmental impact on the site, while providing space for flexible parking and storage beneath the facility that can be moved should it flood.
The most remarkable characteristic of the building is its shape. The roof juts out in saw tooth-like peaks that mimic Switzerland’s mountain ranges.
A common industrial roofing technique, the peaks are also capped with windows, which act as skylights to flood the work areas below with daylight, minimizing energy spent on lighting. Many of the interior walls are glazed glass, enabling light to shine through. During the day, the classrooms can be illuminated entirely with natural lighting.
Durisch Nolli constructed the facility with materials familiar to students of the center - primarily lightweight industrial metal.