Forfatterhuset Kindergarten

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A garden village
for kids

Year: First prize in competition 2012, completed 2014

Client: City of Copenhagen

Program: Day care center for 160 children, age 0-6

Size: 1,950 m²

Located in the heart of vibrant neighbourhood, “De Gamles By” – literally “The city of the old” – used to be the end destination for senior citizens in Copenhagen. Today the area is a showcase of age-integrated diversity. People of all ages meet and share the green gardens, which feature goats, rabbits, chickens and vegetable gardens for local schoolchildren. Among the beautiful red-brick homes for the elderly, this lush green garden village is home to Forfatterhuset – a kindergarten organized around large mature trees like potted plants on a terrace. The plot is divided into smaller and more intimate zones of gardens, lively play zones, roof terraces and quiet niches. Forfatterhuset is simultaneously a playground and a building, a park and an institution. This is a kids’ world to discover and explore.

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A kids’ village with elements scattered like potted plants on a terrace.

Located in one of the densest areas of Copenhagen, De Gamles By is a melting pot for social interventions. Besides being a neighbourhood for seniors, the area is home to five daycare institutions, allotment gardens for the neighbouring public school, an open space for a high school plus a neighbourhood petting zoo.

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De Gamles By is a green oasis in the city. The area consists of red-brick buildings standing on a lush green carpet. How do you place a new building in an environment such as this without taking away more than you give back?

In 20 years, both the share of children living in Copenhagen and the share of seniors have increased dramatically. Studies show many mutual benefits when nursing homes and daycare institutions share facilities. Today, more than 100,000 elderly people are defined as being involuntarily lonely, and 2% of all deaths are linked to negative side effects of loneliness.

How does a building
and a landscape
become one?

To retain the natural feeling of a green footprint on the existing site, the kindergarten is designed as a three-dimensional village where garden and building become one.

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Concept model showing how the façade wraps around the buildings and existing trees on the site.

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The church in De Gamles By.

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Forfatterhuset – a new integrated building.

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Traditionally, a large institution is designed as a single central, efficient unit.

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Here, the single unit is split into smaller volumes, turning the large building into a small village that adapts to the site conditions.

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All the edges of the kindergarten are rounded off with a unifying band that creates an internal flow and a friendly exterior.

The unifying red-brick bands intuitively define and divide the institution into safe spheres for different age groups without the use of fencing.

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It is a sensitive art adding new to old in a historic area. First of all we wanted to understand the area’s characteristics and then we wanted to strengthen it but at the same time create something new and contrasting.

The red city
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Traditional red bricks.

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Brick slats.

De Gamles By is also known as The Red City, referring to the red bricks that are used throughout the development. The façade of the new kindergarten respects the historical surroundings by translating the traditional horizontal bricks of the area into slender vertical brick slats.

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The façade system continues from unit to unit within the institution, surrounding the garden and playground with one simple and unifying band.

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The population of children in Copenhagen has increased by more than 30,000 during the past 15 years. This has resulted in more and larger daycare institutions spanning from 0 to 6 years of age. Forfatterhuset is organized around a common space that creates a visual and physical connection vertically throughout the building, making movement between the different spaces effortless while still dividing the insitution into small units for the different age groups.

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The kindergarten’s heart is a vertical, bright space.

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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Client: City of Copenhagen

Program: Day care center for 160 children, age 0-6

Size: 1,950 m²

Year: First prize in competition 2012, completed 2014

Collaborators: PK3, D.A.I. Arkitekter Ingeniører, Kjær & Lassen

Awards: Mies van der Rohe Award 2015 Shortlist, Architizer A+ Award 2015 Finalist

Team: Andy Minchev, Caroline Krogh Andersen, Chloé Blain, Christina Matos, Dan Stubbergaard, Eik Bjerregaard, Elin Parry, Gabrielle Ubareviciute, Greta Tiedje, Jens Kert Wagner, Kato Hiroshi, Magnus Meulengracht, Martin Jonsbak Nielsen, Martin Laustsen, Michal Kniaz, Tobias Mürsch.

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

Image Credits: Please note that we have used a small number of images for which the copyright holders could not be identified. In these cases it has been our assumption that such images belong to the public domain. If you claim ownership of any of the images presented and have not been properly identified, please notify Cobe and we will make a formal acknowledgement.