During a visit to a refugee shelter in 2013, Pope Francis shared his appeal for a spirit of poverty within the Church, suggesting empty convents be converted not so much into hotels to welcome paying tourists but to house "refugees, "the body of Christ". The archdiocese of Cologne instantly welcomed his appeal and decided to convert the abandoned convent of the Poor Clares in the Kalk neighbourhood of Cologne, on the banks of the Rhine, into an integrated housing programme. LK Architekten suggested a careful reconstruction that led to the opening up, re-densifying and integrating of the convent, previously cut off from the surrounding urban neighbourhood. The "Integrated housing programme of the Poor Clare's Cloister" was finished in the Spring of 2018. The area now opens out with an attractively designed entrance square. The church stands to the right, while on the left, there is a new, three-storey building now used as a consultancy centre for the Caritas education centre. The square narrows toward the back only to open out onto a view of the former convent garden. In the Quadrum, the former convent directly adjoining the church, has been converted into apartments for young, unaccompanied refugees.
The brick façade runs along the side of the observer's pathway while at the centre of the new building is the new "Quartiersplatz" square, designed to offer a pleasant haven, in which to rest, with seating and a generous area surrounded by trees. It was important to transfer the pleasant atmosphere of the daytime and recreate it in the evening and at night. The lighting project studio, arens faulhaber lichtplaner was given free rein, playing with the light and creating enough brightness made up of islands of light achieved with iPro spotlights, in clusters of three, installed on 4 metre high poles. Two are fitted with wide flood optics and their light cone lands softly on the ground. The third spotlight with spot optics marks the centre of the light island.
A balanced composition of intensity and positioning with which the design studio hoped to recreate the idea of evening strolls in an old Italian town centre.
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