What is it about architecture that makes a space feel so full of wonder? Is it the form the architect created? Is it the surprise of materials and finishes being used in a unique way? Is it the way you feel when you see the space or is it the way the space makes you feel when you interact with it? Is it the way a building can bring together a community - or divide it? Is it the way the structure interacts with its site, or the way it encompasses history in a modern way? Perhaps it is all of these things mashed together.
For me, the architecture firm COBE was able to achieve all of these things when they created Forfatterhuset Kindergarten. Located in Copenhagen, Denmark this school was designed for 160 young children, ages 0-6 years old, and is maybe even beyond the children's imagination. Five independent buildings with curved corners are organized on the site to create a village for these children to explore and grow in. Each building, which is anywhere from one to three floors high, is topped with green roofs and roof gardens and wrapped in a custom vertical brick cladding that also acts as a fence around the entire site.
The kindergarten is located in a neighborhood comprised of historic brick buildings acting mainly as nursing homes and senior housing. COBE took extreme care to respect the sites surrounding buildings and integrate the new school with a modern twist, mixing the old and the new. Instead of using traditional brick cladding, COBE worked with engineers to develop the facades brick lamellae, baguette shaped, hollow ceramic bricks attached vertically to the structure. Because these bricks cover the entire exterior of the building they also act as solar shading, which is a brilliant solution. This same facade acts as fences around the surrounding garden and playground outside as well as the rooftop gardens to ensure safety but also keep the structure uniform.
The exterior of this building is vibrant and undulating, it’s almost surprising to find the interior to be so sleek and monochromatic. White walls and tall atriums flood the inside with natural daylight and a brightness that matches the warm feelings the exoskeleton of the building provides upon approach. The central stair wall is surrounded by thin white metal poles that create a screen, mimicking its outside cladding. The rooms are seemingly left open, allowing its young inhabitants to explore and use the space in a way that suits them best.
It’s an exceptional example of all the things architecture can be.
Free flowing but organized. Modern but still able to pay homage to its historical relevance. Protective without feelings like a cell - which I think this facade could have easily suggest but somehow doesn’t. Born out of collaboration with PK3 landscape architects, and D.A.I. an engineering firm, it shows just what amazing things we can create as humans when we work together.