Day care center on Krausesvej
Dorte Mandrup’s award-winning day care center in Østerbro breaks with tradition in an attempt to cater to an unusually broad range of stakeholders.
The original proposal entailed a four-story building on the corner of Krausesvej and Skaderborggade in Østerbro, but the project encountered fierce protests from neighbors. Their fears of losing light and air were accepted and a new local plan called for a building at the site no taller than one story.
The architectural challenge thereby included creating outdoor and indoor room for staff and 36 children in a relatively small space, designing a well-lit institution despite five- to six-story buildings as its neighbors, ensuring the new institution did not take light or air from these neighbors, and, last but not least, creating a design that fit into the surroundings. These challenges were met by Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter, and in 2006 the resulting day care center was awarded the City of Copenhagen’s annual building award for being “well-functioning and architecturally unique”.
The two discs
With many physical and functional challenges, the project solution was very pragmatic in nature. The institution fills nearly the entire building plot, with a few notches that pull daylight into the building and create small outdoor spaces at street level. Any attempts to match the various architectural styles of the existing residential buildings in the area would be doomed to failure, so the architects instead designed a building with a style all its own.
It is designed as two parallel discs. One disc is formed by the terrain, the other by the roof, which also serves as an outdoor space, giving the 530-square-meter institution an outdoor space of nearly the same size. One of the most distinctive design features is the ramp connecting the two planes. With a red rubber surface and furnished with specially-designed outdoor bean bag pillows that can also be used as bases for inserting parasols and creating shade in the summer sun.
“Dangerous!” is the first thought of many when they see that the large ramp is a playground for the very youngest toddlers. The day care center has used the ramp extensively since the day it opened in November 2005. The day care center’s management team developed many solutions in collaboration with the architects, and they aren’t the least bit nervous. “The ramp is fantastic for children’s motor skills, and there hasn’t been a single accident,” said the day care center’s director after the institution opened. Part of the success is the safety provided by the large bean bag pillows. Indoors, the day care center has three rooms, a large common room, a kitchen, wardrobe, office and diaper changing room. To utilize as much of the available space as possible, the size of hallways is reduced and the common room is placed at the heart of the building, providing access to all of the other rooms. Light is drawn in through the enormous windows, which are covered with white silkscreen prints and curtains made from white parachute fabric. This design ensures optimal use of the available sunlight. However, one drawback of the large windows is that one of the rooms is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.