BERLIN (DE) - In Germany, when talk turns to children, the tone is often negative – the hostility of local residents to children, the alarming drop in birth rates, the shortage of cheap and universal day care. Visiting 'Taka-Tuka' kindergarten in Berlin's Spandau district, one gets an entirely different impression. Here, committed directors, loving staff and creative architects have worked together closely. And although the result is temporary, this should not be a major problem in a field where considerable wear and tear is to be expected. The architects' plan for the conversion was based on a utopian programme inspired by Astrid Lindgren's heroine 'Pippi Longstocking' (who in one adventure visits 'Taka-Tuka-Land'). Pippi lives in a childlike children's paradise where there are wonderful things like a lemonade tree. This tree has now reappeared in Spandau: the extended facade of the nursery, designed as a three-dimensional playing surface, was inspired by flowing lemonade that everyone wants to dive, swim and fool around in to refresh themselves. The new play areas are as fluid as the soft drink, covering a total of seven stages in the children’s daily routine: from the morning welcome session, to playing together, to relaxation and waiting to be picked up by parents at the end of the day.
Using limited funds to maximum effect in small-scale projects – such is the objective of this and other projects undertaken by the Baupiloten team, founded in 2002 and itself an educational institution. Under the guidance of Susanne Hofmann, several tutors and trained architects, a changing roster of students from Berlin's Technical University are given an opportunity to earn their first credits. This involves more than just dry planning. All projects have a social dimension based on close contact with the client (as a preliminary design, the children were asked to draw their own 'Taka-Tuka-Land') and complex programmatic requirements. Preparation for 'real life', in other words – just like at kindergarten.