Docked: schleicher.ragaller reorganize the Kinderhaus St. Elisabeth
Foto: Zooey Braun
A two-storey, wedge-shaped new building forms the heart of the Kinderhaus St. Elisabeth project. Centrally positioned among the three existing building parts, it functions as a focal point. As a new main entrance and access tract, it gently brings the trio together; moreover, it provides new structure to the exterior spaces.
With its ship-like character, the new structure seems to dock with the existing buildings. It is just two storeys high, but it does not get lost in its surroundings. In its design, the wedge-shaped building speaks two different languages. The plinth area is completely transparent and has been glazed from floor to ceiling. In contrast, the first upper floor is significantly more closed off. While the ground level both encourages and creates angles of view between the interior and exterior spaces, the upper volume features only deliberately placed openings. Its façade, which is clad entirely in black wooden slats, contrasts with the individual, white-framed windows that suggest portholes. Like a protector, the dark volume is enthroned above the ground-level area, offering children a sheltered arrival space.
The architects from schleicher.ragaller conceptualize the project as a small city. A broad diversity of spaces with differing qualities are structured around paths, bridges and squares, making the Kinderhaus St. Elisabeth a small-scale adventure area which considers the needs of the children who attend. In this scheme, the new building takes on the role of a distribution centre. The foyer on the lower level is virtually vacant apart from the cloakroom. Upstairs, everything is arranged around an open gallery which allows angles of view through the new part and leads to the group spaces in the existing components.
The choice of materials favours a combination of roughness and security. The yellow floor at ground level gleams even for visitors outside and creates a bright, friendly ambience. Combined with white walls and unplastered exposed concrete, the brick and other surfaces of the existing structures feature a fascinating contrast of old and new. Particularly in the new building, the circle motif recurs in playful details. Colourful accents structure the spaces and help the children find their way.