The Phorms Campus in Berlin-Mitte, with its listed brick building from the Gründerzeit era, houses the first and largest Phorms School. From kindergarten to elementary school to high school, currently around 800 children and adolescents experience a bilingual community in German and English at the bilingual private school. In addition to bilingual education, differentiated learning, inspiring educators, and lived diversity are important components of Phorms pedagogy.

Client — Phorms Berlin gGmbH
size — ca. 2100 sqm
services — Schoolyard design
completion — 10/2023
Location — Berlin
photographer — HEJM

It was a significant challenge to create a schoolyard with attractive play offerings for children and adolescents in the two courtyards of the protected buildings. The space required for fire brigade assembly areas and driveways was so extensive that the design had to be limited to two relatively small areas. For this reason, a vertical instead of a horizontal landscape was created!

With the help of stacked containers and the expertise of our partners KuKuk Box, here the children can play, climb, hide, and older students can chill while being undisturbed. A second level made of wooden cubes was built on top of the containers which are left bare. The cladding made of wooden slats allows light into the interior and brings the warmth of the wood material into the urban courtyards.

Inside the container landscape, there are numerous wooden climbing opportunities. The play with windows at different heights – adapted to the height of the children – directs attention to the child’s perspective. “Children should not have to adapt to their environment, but the environment should adapt to the child,” is a well-known and often quoted statement by Maria Montessori. Baukind translates this statement into architecture.

Furthermore, a large area with balancing bars was designed in one of the two courtyards. Here, too, spaces for movement, coordination, and hiding are offered together. Since the entire area of the courtyards is built on top of an underground garage, all play equipment, sandboxes, and plant beds had to be built up instead of dug into the ground as well as closely coordinated with the statics of the basement. An advantage of this construction method: beautiful seating areas have been created around the plant beds and sandboxes everywhere.

The use of color was also closely coordinated with the monument conservation authority. Thus, the turquoise of the new design elements can also be found in the listed brick facade. The red, as the identity color of the Phorms schools, was used repeatedly as an accent and can be found in all play equipment, nets, hammocks, and in the furniture such as benches and chairs. Baukind demonstrates how open space design, architecture, and interior design can positively support children and create an environment that, depending on the need, can be stimulating or calming.