CREO ARKITEKTER A/S and JAJA architects have won a competition to design a new home for Children with Autism near Hareskoven, one of the large forests near Copenhagen. The project will be the future home for eighteen children, ranging in age up to 18 years old.
"The proposal creates an inviting and intimate atmosphere that makes it feel like home... It fulfills all our aspirations in creating a model of future homes for children with special needs," commented the jury.
From the architects: The proposal is based on the existing building of two wings, which form a distinct arrival situation while shielding the residence from the road and its neighbors. The two wings open up towards the southwest and the green surroundings and create a framework for the stunning outdoor areas bordering the fringe of Hareskoven.
The new spatial program is significantly larger than the current situation, and so to keep the scale along the residential street and maintain an open access to the green surroundings, we propose a building on two levels. The top floor marks a clear arrival situation for the residents and is programmed with functions closely connected with the road for ease of access.
The lower part is defined as a more porous and polygonal building that maximizes facade in close relation to the green surroundings. Here, the main body of housing units are placed to form a number of niches and corners softening the transition between indoors and outdoors.
The two levels are connected by a primary vertical connection right at the entrance with two secondary shortcuts for the older children and staff.
The major volume is placed in the northeast corner of the site, creating a more generous green space towards Hareskoven. By placing the upper volume along the road, the future residence looks out to the 'green backdrop' and frames the forest at the end of the road - a quality we wanted to preserve.
By designing the building over two levels, roughly a quarter of the total building area is situated with frontage along Damsagervej, and in this way, despite the overall housing size, the volume relates sympathetically to scale of the residential street.
The upper level consists of three areas: management / staff, kitchen and the housing unit ‘B’. Centrally positioned between the kitchen and unit B is the main entrance from which all areas can be accessed, including the lower level via an open staircase and elevator. To give the main entrance a more intimate and homely character, the staff offices are pulled slightly away from the residences, with an additional staff entrance near the parking area.
The kitchen is located near the entrance and elevator with access to upper floor residences. The typical domestic kitchen is a pleasant and exciting place, something the new kitchen - here combined with the training area – is also offering. The kitchen’s central location seeks to inspire the children’s curiosity and encourages their active participation when they come home from school.
The upper floor provides a generous view toward the forest below. To create a beautiful transition from foreground to background, we propose a roof of flowering sedum so the roof becomes part of the landscape when you look of the upper floor. In addition, the sedum handles drainage of rainwater and provides a sustainable, green roof covering.
The majority of the lower level consists of residential units and common rooms facing the garden with supporting program located at the rear edge. Each housing unit surrounds a common living space with direct access to the garden. Above each corner of the common space is a skylight that provides a ‘room within a room’ while ensuring good daylight when the room is divided in two. A bespoke shelving furniture buffers the private and circulation space while providing built-in niches for the children to retreat.
The landscape is pulled between the lower volume to meet the central courtyard that serves as the building's heart and fulcrum.
Here, the main activity room is located, designed with two skylights to provide indirect lighting and additional headroom for various sports and play. The larger room is bordered by smaller niches, housing a collection special functions such as sensory and creative workshops.
Along both sides of the courtyard are further connections to housing development. The movement along the courtyard gives residents a beautiful experience to the green surroundings, and also acts the main point of orientation in the building.
Circulation in the residence is structured around four angled arms that break down the long line of corridors. Positioned at the end of each arm is a staircase that provides access to the upper floor and creates two smaller loops in the building so that staff can quickly circulate between each of the housing units. The two team-units for staff are located in each wing of the building. One near units A and C and another at units D, E with quick access to housing development B via the stairs.
Lead ConsultantCREO ARKITEKTER A/S
Sub-ConsultantJAJA architects, ISC Rådgivende Ingeniører A/S
ClientEjendomsselskabet Damsager P/S
PhotographsCREO ARKITEKTER A/S & JAJA Architects