Guests can feel the cheerful atmosphere that surrounds the Balthasar Hospice for Children and Young Adults in Olpe near Cologne even in the car park. The surfacing of colourful clay pavers lies like a brightly striped rug at the feet of the visitors, signalling: this is somewhere you can laugh and be happy.
The Balthasar Hospice for Children and Young Adults was built in 1998 as the first German hospice for children, with a second building being added in 2009. It provides a total of twelve spaces for terminally ill children and their families, who can draw strength or find support and solace in the last phase of life during their stay here. “Many feel that hospices are sad places,” says landscape architect Doris Herrmann, who was commissioned to redesign the outdoor spaces. But despite the heavy burden borne by the families, the atmosphere here is cheerful. Focus is on the happy times that the families can spend and enjoy together.
A garden of discovery
This fundamental attitude is reflected in the outdoor spaces. Doris Herrmann engaged sensitively with the special concept of the hospice. She worked with warm and natural materials like wood and clay pavers and played with colours and shapes, bringing in a host of creative ideas. This resulted in a friendly garden with paths meandering through the grounds, past play equipment, patio areas, fountains, planted beds, benches and lovingly designed havens for retreat. Everything invites guests and visitors to explore – or to relax and draw new strength in a close-to-nature atmosphere.
Even the car park is out of the ordinary. The colourful clay paver surfacing is reminiscent of a brightly coloured rug to brighten the visitors’ spirits. “I wanted to make it easier for the children when they arrive. They should instantly sense: I feel good here,” says the designer, explaining her thoughts behind the design. She values the warm aura of clay pavers, the ability of the natural material made of fired clay to store and give off warmth.
The Balthasar Hospice for Children and Young Adults is partnered by the Charitable Order of the Franciscans in Olpe and is funded largely from donations. For this purpose, a Foundation for the Balthasar Children’s and Young Adults’ Hospice was established to permanently enable the valuable work of this facility.