The Germina Foundation is dedicated to integration and complementary learning experiences for children at risk of social exclusion. The brief for its new headquarters required facilities for three different age groups, common zones and the Foundation’s offices. This packaging of uses was formalized and expressed from the outset in the layout, with two premises on the ground floor and a building in between them.
The basis for the project is an empty-solid duality. The empty space is an offset between the units on two levels that creates a sequence of gaps facing both directions (street and courtyard), both outdoor (terraces) and indoor (double spaces), which exhibit the organisation of the programme and improve its spatial quality.
The solid provides continuity between the components, an identity for an entity inserted in “three buildings”. Walking through the two premises and the central building, a furniture-like item bestows order on the chaos of toys and other objects, connecting all the environments by means of a single element that hugs the party walls.
The street facade insinuates its non-residential nature with an unusual two-storey scale —mostly rendered with sprayed mortar— while the courtyard facade opens onto a controlled space that is sheltered by adjustable sunshades.
With an austere exterior and a tight budget, this building seeks a balance between its honest presence in a degraded setting —into which it should integrate and be integrated, instead of standing out pretentiously— and at the same time providing a warm, welcoming atmosphere that the children regard as a second home.