We feel no sympathy at all for any kid in Berlin who complains about school if their school is Erika-Mann Grundschule II . Not only do the principles of their school seem like they were actually created for children, the school’s recently revamped environment is amazing — perhaps not surprisingly as it was designed by the kids themselves with Baupiloten, a group of architecture students.
Some time ago, we wrote about Taka-Tuka Land Kindergarten which was also designed by the same Baupiloten studio. It is a group of architecture students at the Technical University of Berlin led by architect Susanne Hoffmann who founded the studio in 2003.
Baupiloten projects allow the architecture students to experience all facets of a real-life project, from design to budgeting, cost control and site supervision. The students also learn to present to clients and to convince them that their solutions are viable and practical.
A group of just under 10 architecture students worked on the Erika-Mann Grundschule II project. The kids who are using the space participated actively in the design process, giving the architecture students their views on how they will actually use the space, how it should function and what they’d love to see in their school.
Together they sought to lighten and cheer up the heavy and authoritarian air of their old school building from 1915. They developed a playful concept based on a fantastical world of the Silver Dragon. The farther into the building one moves, the stronger one feels the presence of the Silver Dragon whose spirit changes, moves, glows and shimmers.
The different spaces are called Snuffle Garden, Snuffling Room, Chill Room and Dragon’s Breath, each starting with a clean white background and offering freedom of expression in the form of flexible furnishings.
The Chill Room located on the third floor includes one and two-person seating platforms covered with foam, tarp and various textiles. Meter-high petals protect each pedestal creating little isolated cocoons, each of which is also moveable and changeable by the children depending on what they wish at the time.
The Snuffle Garden on the second floor is furnished with horizontal and sloping surfaces for sitting, lying down or sliding. No wonder that the school was named one of Germany’s best schools at the end of 2008. - Tuija Seipell