1960s church-turned-kindergarten opens in Munster with perforated facade, natural ventilation and numerous playspaces
The St Sebastian Church in Munster, Germany has been successfully transformed from a desecrated religious space into an engaging school for young children in a bold adaptive reuse scheme by BOLLES+WILSON. In 2009, a competition jury awarded first prize to a brave BOLLES+WILSON scheme which envisaged the characteristic form given a new life and function - a kindergarten framed and shielded by site perimeter housing (2nd construction phase).
The lower levels of the church now host a kindergarten with three group rooms on the ground floor and two groups on the first floor. The roofs of these become all-weather play decks - inside the church walls but climatically an outside space. The existing facade is perforated by a grid of 50 x 50 cm openings, which - now open - provide constant and healthy ventilation through this inside/outside ‘playroom’.
Cold in winter, comfortably temperate in summer, but always dry, the space provides the kids with an area to play outside all year round. The original roof needed replacement and now industrial skylights flood the entire play deck with natural light. In the twilight, street lights illuminate this magical playground and give the impression of a public space. The walls of this playroom carry 140 sq m of acoustic panels - 30 x 60 cm ‘sauerkraut’ pixels outlining an elephant, a snake and a giant crocodile. Grass green impact-protection flooring - usually used for sports fields - extends the interior green-on-green concept to the outside play deck.
Embedded in the floor giant handprints and footprints suggest a play with scales. A new tapering extension with multipurpose room mediates between reprogrammed church and street - it houses kitchen, offices, technical rooms and one big multipurpose room. Here a glazed entrance zone - with facing mothers’ waiting bench - leads to both kindergarten and these adjacent spaces, which can also be used externally for neighbourhood events. External play spaces include a bobby-car circuit and a play house which doubles as second escape route from the inner play decks.