Author: David Rowlinson
18 Architecture students from Germany’s University of Kaiserslauten have teamed up with 25 refugees to build a timber community centre for a refugee camp in Mannheim, Germany. Completed as part of the “Building Together – Learning together” program, the 550 square metre structure breathes new life into the bare-bones surroundings with a beautiful new gathering space. The design/build project prioritised ecological and cost-effective design without compromising construction quality.
The timber community centre was created in response to the desolate conditions of the Mannheim refugee camp. To aid in the refugee crisis, the architecture students teamed up with 25 refugees to design the new building, from concept to final build.
The students lived at the refugee camp and worked intensively for six weeks from mid-August to the end of October to complete the project and help teach their new coworkers basic building skills and German.
The community centre is made almost entirely of lightweight untreated timber, with the larger components prefabricated in a hangar of the former military facility and later assembled onsite.
The main walls are clad in Douglas fir while the latticework walls are used as structural support, allowing for natural ventilation and light while also creating a beautiful dappled play of light and shadow. The centre wraps around a small garden courtyard as well as a large outdoor events space. Built-in seating is arranged around this area, shielded from the elements by a two-meter-wall canopy and partitions.
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