Pippi Longstocking | icon 049 | July 2007

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Die Baupiloten

words Beatrice Galilee

Pippi Longstocking was the inspiration behind a vivid yellow and green kindergarten in Berlin, which has been given a new lease of life by Die Baupiloten – a studio made up of architecture students from the city’s Technical University.

“The tale is very popular for children in Germany,” says Susanne Hofmann, the project architect and design tutor for the group. “The school was renamed after the magical island ‘Taka-Tuka-Land’ where lemonade flows from an old oak tree. We developed the story and design so it all fits with this idea of a single green tree and bright yellow colours flowing through the school.”

Hofmann describes the original building as “very sad” and neglected, so Die Baupiloten replaced much of the exterior structure with brightly coloured wooden panels. The team opened up the previously closed garden-facing wall with a timber climbing structure forming geometric twists around the doors, like a knot in a tree trunk. “The students wanted the appearance of the structure breaking open,” says Hofmann. “We spent a long time looking at the way a piece of bark falls from a tree.” Yellow tarpaulin lines the climbing frame and the same colour continues through the school’s interior.

Technical University students from the third to fifth years are invited to apply to Die Baupiloten projects. “It’s extremely exhausting but it’s very important for them to build,” says Hofmann. The practice currently has 20 students working on three schools in Berlin and a cafeteria for their own university.

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