The new Forscherkindergarten Apfelbäumchen (try sayin' that five times fast) school building in Berlin, Germany is designed to be centered around nature. Built by Winkens Architekten, the brick and timber building opens on each end with enclosed terraces that face a grassy hill. Complete with a green roof, the school is an idyllic learning environment, connecting the children to their surrounding nature in a big city.
Located in the Bohnsdorf-Grünau neighborhood of Berlin, an Evangelistic Church community, the school occupies a corner plot of land thick with trees. Almost a miniature forest, the plot was played up by the architects who wanted to highlight the importance of the trees. At either end of the school, Winkens built large open-air terraces with timber planks, which are covered by the extending roof. They are open on three sides, allowing the trees to be viewed from all angles. On one end, the terrace roof has a large square hole cut out, with a tree planted below. As the years pass, the children and staff can watch the tree grow, and eventually it will burst through the cut out and over the school!
The school’s entrance is in the middle of the building, and leads to a large foyer and multipurpose room. Along the perimeter of the building, each classroom is lined with large windows, which fill the classrooms with light. Winkens also designed large window seats in each apartment-style classroom, so that the children may gaze out onto the canopy of trees surrounding the school.
Employing more green features, the school’s roof is planted richly with greenery. This not only blends the building in with the landscape around it, but also insulates and controls solar gain. The school is also heated with natural gas.
The Forscherkindergarten Apfelbäumchen engages its young students with the nature around it, providing an inspiring learning environment in the midst of an urban area like Berlin.
Images © Marcel Klebs and Jirka Arndt