Rütti school project: discussion centres around costs

Thu, 29. Oct. 2020

The expansion of the Rütti school in Gstaad is expected to cost just under CHF 31m. The authorities presented the project at two information events. The loan will be voted on at the ballot box on 29 November.   

The 93 voters present at the municipal assembly on 14 September 2018 unanimously approved, with some abstentions, the project credit of CHF 1.72m for the expansion of the Rütti school. The open architectural competition was won by Comamala Ismail Architectes from Delémont/Biel with their project "Scissors, Stone, Paper". The total cost of the extension – renovation of the old building and construction of a new school building and a gym – amounts to CHF 30.8m. The voters of the municipality of Saanen will be called upon to vote on 29 November on the increase of CHF 28.94m.

Since, due to corona conditions, a ballot will take place instead of the municipal assembly, the authorities presented the major project at two information events and gave interested members of the public the opportunity to ask questions.

Renovation and replacement
The project was presented by municipal councillors Vreni Müllener (department for real estate) and Hans Peter Schwenter (department for education). "Close and intensive cooperation has led to the present project," emphasised Müllener. The old building from the 1920s is to be renovated. The new building and the gym from the 1970s are to be demolished and replaced by two new buildings. The condition of these buildings is so poor that a renovation would not be appropriate. The project is a construction with a very high proportion of made-to-measure work and a very high proportion of traditional crafts, explained Müllener. "As far as legally possible, a large proportion of the contracts should be awarded to local suppliers". 

School operations continue
If the municipal loan is approved on 29 November, the building permit procedure should be completed in January 2021. The dismantling of the gym will then start in October 2021 and the construction of the new buildings should begin in November. If everything goes according to plan, the new buildings could be occupied in the summer of 2023 and work could begin on dismantling the "new building" (school building from the 1970s) and renovating the old building. "In this way, the construction work could be completed by the end of 2023," says Müllener.

School operations can continue during the construction work – only the gym cannot be used. "With this project there is no need for an expensive temporary container solutions," explained Müllener.

More than a school
"We are not building for eight, ten or twelve years," said Müllener. "We are building for the future, for at least 50 years and if possible for much longer. The Rütti school is not simply a school, "but a central and integrating school with tasks that go beyond the classic primary school," Müllener advocated the multi-million project. "It is an important school with many additional offers, from which pupils from other school districts and the surrounding municipalities also benefit: the curative education school, the class for special needs, the day school, speech therapy, integrative support, psychomotor skills or school social work.

Designed too generously?
The question and answer session following the detailed presentation was well attended. The space available was very generously designed, said one participant. This surprised him, given the current number of 52 children from the third to the sixth grade. Hans Peter Schwenter explained this with a strong increase in pupil numbers that is expected until 2023. Overall, the number of pupils in the regular classes will rise from 111 to 136 children in the next three years, so the creation of appropriate classrooms is farsighted, according to Schwenter.

One must be aware that one is not only building classrooms, explained architect Toufiq Ismail-Meyer. "Today, classrooms make up a relatively small part of a school, we build an entire school complex with many facilities. For work and recreation areas and the day school, 620m2 are available, which corresponds to around ten classrooms of 64m2 each.”

Rütti versus peripheral locations?
The project is very generous, has endless storage rooms and various spare rooms, complained another attendee. He could not shake off the suspicion that certain exponents in this project also wanted to integrate the peripheral school locations at the Rütti. Schwenter assured, though: "It was never an issue in the commission for education that we were building extra-large at the Rütti in order to integrate the children from other, smaller school locations.

No plan B
Voters cannot submit motions, they can only put a yes or a no in the ballot, said member of the cantonal parliament Hans Schär. Many complained that the project was too expensive. "Can the municipal council make any changes and accommodate them in order to help the project make a breakthrough?”, he asked. But there is no plan B, emphasised Müllener. 

Based on AvS/Anita Moser

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