Refurbishment works on the so-called Brick building of the Benčić complex, where the Children’s House will be located following renovation, began in March of 2019 on an area of 1948 m². The works will be performed by the IN-GRAD d.o.o. company from Zagreb.
The total value of the contracted works on the Children’s House is 42.3 million HRK. Zem Nadzor d.o.o. will provide expert supervision over the reconstruction. The total value of the expert supervision is 319,615.62 HRK.
The Children’s House and the City Library are integral parts of the EU project “Revitalisation of the Benčić Complex – the Brick and the T-shaped Buildings”. The total value of the entire project is 162.1 million HRK and has received grants in the amount of 68.2 million HRK from the European Regional Development Fund. The project is financed by the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014-2020. Furthermore, the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds has approved funds in the amount of 10 million HRK for the City of Rijeka to co-finance the project, thus reducing the City’s share in the financing of the project by the aforementioned amount.
Saša Randić, B.Arch., is the lead designer of the building. The equipment of the Children’s House, following the renovation of the building, is estimated at 8,246,177.27 HRK.
The Children’s House in Rijeka is the first building of its kind in Croatia, with its nearest equivalent located in Ljubljana (Hiža otrok in umetnosti – House for Children and Art). The Children’s House is distinctive for the way in which it approaches the children and parents who will spend time there, as well as the areas and themes in which children will be involved.
Making animated movies in a movie studio, making video presentations, creating music in a music studio, playing video games on the big screen of the screening hall, making video games, product design and 3D printing, storytelling theatre in the small amphitheatre on the roof of the house, “sweet” interactive baby theatre, doll-making, therapeutic theatre and customised movie screenings for children with developmental disabilities, daily movie screenings for children etc. are just some of the planned activities that the Children’s House will offer in one place for children and their parents once it is constructed and furnished. The content of the Children’s House is intended for children between the ages of 0 and 12 and the house will be open all day.
The entrance atrium of the Children’s House is envisioned as a spacious and open living room, which could, in addition to the cloakroom, sanitary facilities and passageway to the staircase leading to the upper floors, provide an interactive exhibition space, where children can spend time with their parents and have fun without the prior planning of arrival or enrolment in workshops.
On the first and the second floor, there is a multi-purpose hall that seats 110 people, a large projection screen and a small stage on one side and several workshop rooms, as well as a film and a music studio on the other side. The aforementioned multi-purpose hall is intended as a venue for the daily screening of children’s films, live game streaming on YouTube, which is an extremely popular activity for this age group, as well as the performances of children’s plays, both those aimed at children and those that the children come up with themselves at puppet-play workshops. This multi-purpose hall will also be used for watching films for children and those made by the children themselves, as well as for the screening of films adapted to children with developmental disabilities.
The workshop rooms are prospective spaces for bringing parents and children together in creative processes and are at the heart of the creative activities at the Children’s House. The programmes offered strive to, among other things, stimulate literacy among 21st-century children, who were born into a world of digital technology that is evolving at such a rapid rate that leading an active life becomes an interesting challenge in many ways.
Stribor, the children’s department of the City Library, will be located on the third floor of the Children’s House, occupying an area twice its previous size, which will open up possibilities for providing completely new content for children. In relation to that, a youth department will be established in the T-Building, the location of the new City Library, thus separating the youth and children’s literature departments.
And finally, a storytelling theatre will be situated in a small amphitheatre on the roof of the Children’s House, where actors will tell stories and intermittently include puppets as characters. Children will choose the stories themselves, with the majority provided by Stribor, of course.
All programmes, workshops and activities, in which children can participate and create, will be conducted by four city cultural institutions – Art Kino, the Rijeka City Library, the Rijeka City Puppet Theatre and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, in cooperation with their external partners, associations and independent organisations, as well as mentors that possess the necessary knowledge and skills in specific areas and who will lead and guide the children in creative processes.