Internationales Jugend -und Begegnungszentrum BarleberSee
Sanitary Facility for IJBZ Children's Camp 'Lake Barleben'
The river Elbe landscape plays a major part in the cultural identity of the Magdeburg area. The river is not only connected with the industrial development but also with the settlement quality of the town. Therefore building is often a reminiscence of the historic development and its future perspectives.
In the north the town is tangented by the Mittelland Canal. Where Elbe and Mittelland Canal cross there is an inland port and a landscape of artificial lakes. These were created by the exploitation of gravel for the construction of the motorway and today serve as recreation areas and biotopes.
The oldest of these lakes, the Barleber See features – partly even since the 1930s – a bathing beach, a campsite, and a youth camp, today as a youth and community centre Jugend- und Begegnungszentrum IJBZ Barleber See. The camp, which is run mainly during the summer months, is located directly between the northern edge of the lake and the Mittelland Canal. The guests are accommodated in bungalows and tents.
The property developer, the youth office Magdeburg, was forced to demolish the existing sanitary facility when opening for the summer season due to dilapidation and quickly had to find a replacement.
The architectural task of our office was the planning and the realization of a temporary sanitary facility with WC and shower rooms. It was to be designed to be able to change position according to the planned changes within the camp. The greatest difficulty was the short time period of only 3 months for planning and construction.
The developer had already indicated that they favoured prefabricated box units – containers. For this we were to improve the appearance of the containers using an outer wooden lagging.
Applying the container idea to the location, we deliberately dismissed an attitude of a romanticizing packaging and looked for meaningful metaphors from a child's perspective. The form was meant to be dictated by the image of an industrial product and a mobile unit. We developed a compatible system, which was based on modular construction of three elements: container, crown roof, and porch.
While the work of erecting was being carried out, already the children were showing a lively interest in the construction and creation of the form. I was like playing with building blocks on a larger scale. Just as a Lego house the construction is perceived at the same time both as an architectural unit and the sum of its recognisable parts.
Surfaces and colours make a building comprehensible for children. Thus being contact and communication area the texture tells about what the house has experienced, whether it is friendly or unfriendly, what it is made of, and what you can do with it. In order to make this approach to the building easier and to break the functional rigour of conventional sanitary containers we chose a distinct colour for the outside and associative wall patterns for inside rooms. The patterns used in boys’ and girls’ changing rooms are similar, yet differ to reflect the according imagery with blue sharks and pink dolphins. The robust simplicity of the containers and their fittings contains a narrative component, which gives the children the freedom to pass on the story.
Through mutation and addition an artefact was created somewhere in between space station and industrial shed. In this way the structure turned into an icon, which follows the child’s world of simplicity, distinctness und colour. It defines the location, serves as a landmark and becomes itself a container for stories and memories. On this level of representation the architecture provokes a fusion of virtuality and the real: dreams, places, and rooms can therefore get superimposed in the child’s world of imagery.
The developer’s opennes helped considerably in the short planning and construction process. Despite the time pressure and limited funds, working in close cooperation with the developer we were able to create a building which meets both the functional expectations of the operators and the special requirements from the children's perspective. Today, after two years in service, it enjoys great popularity and acceptance.