The commune of Oberwil bei Büren, which has 800 residents, is located in the Bernese Seeland region, 30 km from the city of Bern. In Oberwil, as elsewhere, school education is undergoing constant change. The school currently has a pre-school and classes 1 to 6. The Energy+Renovation team has been planning all the refurbishment work in the Oberwil school building since as long ago as 2016.
In the Middle Ages and early modern times, schooling was primarily the responsibility of the churches. Cathedral and monastery schools took on this function in Zurich, Basel, Bern, Lucerne, Lausanne and Solothurn, as well as in smaller country towns. In the 19th century, the state took over public education and the churches' influence was supplanted as time went on. Elementary schools were generally developed earlier and better in the cities and larger towns than in the countryside. But this is no longer the case today.
Back then, it was almost impossible to imagine how the educational sector would develop in the future – what modern schools and their infrastructure would look like. When educational premises are planned nowadays, thought is already given to tomorrow's schools – and this is also the approach taken at Oberwil bei Büren.
The recreation hall, entrance, toilets and upper storeys were in need of renovation. The pre-school was also rebuilt and extended so that the infrastructure would meet current planning requirements for school premises.
The pre-school used to be the school caretaker's apartment, consisting of several rooms. At a later stage, the apartment was repurposed as an ideal space for children to play and learn. But the requirements for a modern pre-school state that all the children must be within the teacher's field of vision. Together with the Education Department of the Canton of Bern, the Energy+Renovation team drew up a preliminary study in 2017 that defined the conversion measures to ensure compliance not only with today's requirements but also with the future school premises planning law.
The refurbishment, conversion and additional construction were completed in three stages during the 2019 spring, summer and autumn holidays so that normal school lessons were not disrupted. Regional companies with whom we had already collaborated were engaged to undertake all the contracted-out work on the floors, walls, windows, roof and insulation, thus ensuring that the project ran smoothly.
Teachers and children at Oberwil bei Büren can now work, play and learn in an optimal environment.