The car park of the Balthasar Children’s and Young People’s Hospice in Olpe in the Sauerland region of Germany lets patients and visitors arrive in a positive atmosphere: the area is paved with colourful Penter paviers spread out like a brightly striped carpet in front of the building.
The Balthasar Children's Hospice
The remodelling of the grounds of the Balthasar Children’s and Young People’s Hospice is unconventional, which reflects the ethos of this special place. Landscape architect Doris Herrmann was commissioned to redesign the outdoor areas of the building in Olpe/Biggesee in North Rhine-Westphalia. It was built in 1998 as the first German children’s hospice.
“Many perceive hospices as sad places”, she says, “but everything is completely different here”. Despite the difficult circumstances, the atmosphere is cheerful. The focus lies on the happy moments that the families can experience together in the time that remains here.
"Many perceive hospices as sad places - but everything is completely different here.“ - Doris Herrmann, architect.
A garden to discover
This attitude is reflected in the outdoor facilities. Working in close collaboration with hospice management, Doris Herrmann developed a design that opened up the steeply sloping and previously barely usable garden grounds and expanded the communal areas.
She used warm and natural materials such as wood and pavers, played with colours and shapes and introduced many creative ideas. The result is a welcoming garden with paths that meander through the grounds. Even the car park is unusual. The eye-catching surface paved with Penter pavers is reminiscent of a colourful carpet and puts the visitors in a positive mood.
“I wanted to make it easier for the children when they arrive. They should immediately have the sense that they feel happy here”, explains the landscape architect.
Colour scheme from the landscape
Doris Herrmann chose the pavers both for their warm appearance and for the ability of the natural material to store and release heat. Doris Herrmann combined stripes of Eros tumbled, Triton tumbled, Siena and Märkish pavers from the German and Dutch Penter range. The stripes are of varying widths and have lively colour transitions from grey to bright yellow tones.
Laying more than 2300 m² of pavers posed a special challenge. The different thicknesses of the paving variants were compensated using the base layer to create a level surface in the car park. The surface also had to be able to withstand the loads of visitor traffic and emergency vehicles. Furthermore, the hospice management wanted the surface to be butt-jointed to minimise rolling resistance for wheelchair users.
"I wanted to make it easier for the children when they arrive.“ - Doris Herrmann, architect.
Challenge of a butt-jointed finish
When using a butt-joint laying method of this kind, the absence of joints can lead to unsightly spalling when the paving is subjected to heavy loads – a conundrum that was not easy to resolve.
Initially, as expected, spalling did occur in one or two areas, but this did not spoil the look of the tumbled or Siena pavers. Only the Märkish pavers, with their classic linear form, were finally removed and re-laid with joints. This is also easy to do with pavers: they are almost indestructible and can, therefore, be reused even after decades of use.
Facts & Figures
Project name: Balthasar Children’s and Young People’s Hospice, Olpe, Germany