*Drawing: Sketch of the school forest location

The Open Shelter
Project description, January 2015

Design for the Living World, a class in participatory practices led by Marjetica Potrč at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HfBK) in Hamburg, was invited by the Springhornhof Foundation to design a shelter with, and for, the students of the Grund- und Oberschule (Elementary and High School) in Neuenkirchen. The school is the caretaker of the School Forest in the rural area south of the village. In June and July 2014, as part of an art class, we organized several workshops with the students of Class 6a, which took place both at the school itself and in the forest. Together we asked the core question, “What is the essence of a shelter?” and arrived at the answer: It is a warm place.

Our proposal is to make an open area in the shape of an island, with a surface that radiates warmth. It will be next to a constructed pond, with both objects situated on the edge of the School Forest. We call them the Warm Place and the Wet Place. Both are man-made biotopes that create their own microclimates.

The Warm Place is a slightly elevated curved surface heated by geothermal energy. It is simply a place to be, to relax and ponder the processes of nature. This is, in fact, an “open shelter” with no walls and with the canopy of the pine forest as its roof.

The pond – the Wet Place – has already been planned for the location. Constructing the pond with the schoolchildren and the Neuenkirchen community – digging it and shaping it – we see as an important part of the project, when people can begin to feel a personal connection with the new space. In addition, we will construct a simple wooden storage shed as a place for backpacks and tools. The shed will also house the equipment that operates the geothermal heating system for the Warm Place.


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