The Children’s House is a building dedicated for children inside the new Culture Block in Rijeka, Croatia. The construction is part of an urban requalification of a former industrial complex, central part of the Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020 project. The block is one of the oldest industrial compounds in Croatia, established in 1750 as a sugar refinery, converted to a tobacco processing plant in mid 19 c, and finally as machine and tractor factory in mid 20 c, which ended its activity on this location on 1998.
The new complex houses various cultural institutions: the City Museum, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the City Library and the Children’s House. All of the new functions are conversions of the existing structures. The Children’s Houses is located in the former warehouse, build in 1899, known also as a Brick House, because of its facade.
Centrally located, the building is conceived as an entrance to the cultural institutions within the block, and as a symbolic entrance to the world of culture for the children up to the age of 12.
The building is used by the neighbouring institutions, including the Art Cinema and the Puppet Theatre, for both performances and educational activities, and the Children’s’ section of City Library. Children are not just spectators within the building, but are also performers and producers. Next to the workshops and courses, the building offers venues for performing arts, in the auditorium and the top floor, with audio and video recording studios.
The building is organised as a box inserted within the original brick walls. The existing walls are reinforced with concrete, and the new concrete box is supported by steel beams and existing cast iron columns. Space between the two walls is used for staircases, which encircle the box in a clockwise direction. Individual rooms are accessed from this architectural promenade, gradually unveiling the rooms with different programs in the building. Each of the rooms has its own feel and use, enabling different uses and interpretations of the spaces.
The ground floor is Culture Block’s living room. The first floor has a small gallery, connected by the original steel bridge to the Museum of Modern and the Contemporary Art Building. The small gallery also serves as a large backstage. Next to this room is the two-storey theatre/cinema auditorium with 75-90 seats. Projection and direction rooms are connected with audio and video lab on second floor, enabling recording and editing of the material. The third floor is used entirely by the City Library children department. The space on the roof terrace is used for workshops, and is also used as a venue for the sensory theatre.
Randić and Associates is an architectural practice, established and directed by Saša Randić, with offices in Rijeka and Zagreb, Croatia.