old and new combine for switch tower retrofit

A-Z architekten has turned a decommissioned railway signal box in wiesbaden, germany, into a center for children and young people. the conversion combines elements of past and present to breathe new life into the building while preserving its character. exposed masonry pairs with contemporary furnishings made from OSB panels while the exterior of the switch tower has been given a new timber skin.

childrens and youth center in a former switch tower 3
view from the street

while it served as a railway signal box for the former wiesbaden west freight depot, the building contained a control room on the second floor and a lounge, toilet and boiler room on the first floor. for this project, the architects have created a multifunctional room on the first floor supplemented by a kitchenette and mobile kitchen furniture, which enables flexible use. this floor also includes an entrance and cloakroom area and barrier-free toilets.

the upper level houses a small playroom with windows on all four sides to create a light, airy space. A-Z architekten has also renewed the roof area to make way for an outdoor terrace, which is partially concealed thanks to an invisible parapet.

childrens and youth center in a former switch tower 1
exterior view with closed windows

the existing masonry remains as a supporting structure but has been clad with a combination of regional and waste spruce. designed by educators from social-cultural network casa e.V., the untreated wooden façade is intended as an ‘action area’ where young artists are invited to spray graffiti. these elements will be removed and auctioned off as works of art to help finance casa e.V. the façade artists were supported by a donation from the late city councilor.

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view of the tower

inside, the masonry has been cleaned and remains visible in order to preserve the character of the signal box. all the new surfaces and furniture pieces are made with OSB panels, including the interior doors on the first floor.

as a linear continuation of the façade, and as a protection against break-ins, all the windows and entrance doors are provided with folding shutters, which can be opened during use and closed again in the evening. during the construction, attention was paid to employing regionally based and well-trained craftsmen to ensure quality and to preserve traditions.

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façade details

childrens and youth center in a former switch tower 5
interior view with kitchen

childrens and youth center in a former switch tower 6
interior view with furnishings made from OSB panels

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furniture details

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interior view

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site plan

site plan

first floor

first floor

upper floor

upper floor

section

section

project info:

name: children’s and youth center in a former switch tower

location: wiesbaden, germany
architecture: A-Z architekten

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edited by: lynne myers | designboom