Alexander Poetzsch Architekturen converts German chocolate factory into supported housing for children

German studio Alexander Poetzsch Architekturen has converted a former chocolate factory in Dresden into a youth club and assisted living centre for children.

Overhauled for the German Child Protection Association, the building now contains a therapeutic housing community with a youth club, counselling centre, workshop and library alongside administrative and conference spaces for the organisation.

As the old chocolate factory is recognisable across the district, Alexander Poetzsch Architekturen sought to minimise visual changes to the existing structure and celebrated its industrial material palette throughout.

Alexander Poetzsch Architekturen has converted a German chocolate factory

“We were in a constant battle for saving as much as possible of the building, trying to implement the existing structures in our design and avoiding demolition,” project’s leader Uta Lambrette told Dezeen.

“In this case, there was another idea, the idea that by visualising old and new simultaneously, we could make the construction, history and value of this building more comprehensible to the young people who live and spend time in it,” she added.

The most significant alteration to the existing structure was the removal of the roof above its large manufacturing hall to the south. Here, an open courtyard has been added, framed by the hall’s existing walls and supporting steel beams.

External staircase at supported housing for children in Germany
It now functions as supported housing for children

The resulting L-shaped block surrounding this courtyard contains administrative and workspaces on the existing sunken ground floor, with accommodation housed above to provide more privacy.

Along with additions to the second floor, a third floor has been added at the top of the factory building. An external stair at the rear connects the second floor to the courtyard.

Where extensions have been made, they have been finished externally in a pale plasterwork to subtly mark them out against the original brickwork, where traces of old windows are left visible.

A large entrance gate at the front of the site has been retained and repainted, with its old glass panels replaced with sheets of perforated metal, mirrored in the large, south-facing windows in the old factory hall.

Courtyard at supported housing centre by Alexander Poetzsch Architekturen
A courtyard has been created in the old factory hall

“We have allowed old and new to stand side by side, sometimes in contrast, sometimes merging,” said Lambrette.

“We believe that every building has a right to exist and we think that we need to get to the point where we can repair and maintain them instead of waiting until it is too late,” she added.

interior of old chocolate factory in Dresden
Exposed brick and white-painted walls feature on the interior

Internally, this same approach has been used, with areas of exposed brick and concrete side-by-side with white-painted walls and newly-tiled bathrooms.

Other converted chocolate factories featured on Dezeen include a home and studio in La Bisbal by Anna and Eugeni Bach and an office in Berlin with secret storage by IFUB. In the same building, IFUB also created a lofty apartment with vaulted ceilings that celebrate the building’s industrial heritage.

The photography is by Johann Husser.

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