architecture : urban : visual culture

Children's home on an extreme terrain

What type of architectural functions and values should be present in a children's home? How could the built environment help to create a feeling of belonging and safeness? Fanni Gárdos, architecture student is looking for the answers to these questions.  

In my thesis, I am focusing on children's homes in Hungary. More than twenty thousand minors live in care nowadays. After being taken from the family, there are many who have to go to children’s homes. The function of these institutions is to help and raise children. During my research, I experienced that the currently operating homes do not improve the children's situation. How do we imagine a good children’s home? How can architecture help the operation of a children’s home? What are the main guidelines for planning a children’s home? In my thesis, I am concentrating on these questions.

Due to my preliminary research, my aim has become to plan a children’s home, where the children are willing to live and feel at home. To avoid the usual characteristics of the institutional system, I have created four separated units. The buildings make up a chain on the steep ground; they communicate with each other, yet they are separated. Six children live in each unit. The buildings are of the same size and structuring, but they differ and have their own characteristics. By the delicate shaping of the ground, I have created spaces that are suitable for public use and for a playground.

The choosen location is the 12th district of Budapest. The two entrances of the north oriented corner ground are connected by steps, the buildings are strung out along these axes. From here, you can reach the sports ground with its attached, ground-sunk public places and also the housing units. I organized the already embanked ground with a gabion supporting wall that runs through, which made additional horizontal sections.

The use of the buildings' materials reacts to their relationship with the ground. Where they directly contact the ground, they are heavy-weight, where they are lifted off, they are light-weight.

The entrance levels of the units are in the lower tract. This part of the building is ferro-concrete shell with gabion cover. The doors and windows are sourranded with a wooden frame. That's where the kitchen and the dinning-room got located in one area. In the back tract, we can find the laundry room, the sanitary facilities and the teachers' room.

The storey is KLH wood structured, which is covered outside and inside with surface treated plywood. The children's sleeping rooms are here, along with the playing room and the sanitary facilities. The two storeys at the break of the building are open to a spindle plan staircase. So the whole building is transparent, has a great accoustic and works as a common living space.

Of course it is needed to have personal places which are good for individual free time.The mobility of children's room was one of the main points for me.These are separable or can be opened for one space, according to the needs.The rooms can fit 1 or 2 or 3 children.

Inside places I put emphasis on materials that are good for a longer period, easy to clean and reparable. During the furniture planning, my point was to create a lot of storing place for the children.The material of the built-in furniture is plywood.

Fanni Gárdos



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