The vision of life in an old paper mill

A former paper factory is located between meadows and forests in the Aurich countryside. Already very close to decay, energetic visionaries came together to take on the ruinous industrial building. Within 1.5 years, the building was renovated with a great deal of personal effort and awakened from its slumber. Today, it is home to several couples and individuals aged between 52 and 70 who have joined forces to provide modern living for the elderly. They founded a co-operative for their joint project.

Andrea and Johann, who were enthusiastic about the idea of living together with friends for as long as possible – preferably into old age – are also part of the team. “We didn’t want to form a shared flat, but rather a living community where everyone can have their own place to retreat to and live as they wish,” says Johann. In addition to a few communal rooms, everyone has their own flat. This vision of living in old age had already emerged three years earlier. The right building for the project was firmly in mind right from the start. Little by little, the current community came together and got to work. “The East Frisians are house builders and we really spent 1.5 years on the building site, which brought us closer together,” says Johann, who was born in Aurich. Thanks to the necessary amount of courage, an unbridled love of experimentation and a lot of imagination, the original brainchild has become a truly unique place of community. The property, the building and the flats show how age-appropriate living can be realised in style. Nothing here is reminiscent of a retirement home or hospital. Healthy floor coverings, hand-flattering banisters, stylish fittings – everything has been carefully selected down to the last detail. And what happens when mobility decreases? We’ve thought of that too: simply take the lift into the flat or roll into the spacious shower cubicle in a wheelchair. Accessibility was an important aspect of the furnishing concept in the shared living space.

Moderner Küchenbereich eines Altbau-Lofts. Mittig vom Raum steht eine großzügige Kochinsel aus schwarz gepulverten Stahl und dunkelblauen Linoleumfronten.
Moderner Küchenbereich eines Altbau-Lofts. Mittig vom Raum steht eine großzügige Kochinsel aus schwarz gepulverten Stahl und dunkelblauen Linoleumfronten.

Turn one into two

There are 9 residential units in total, ranging in size from 49 square metres to 140 square metres. All are characterised by generously proportioned rooms that are flooded with light and have an open-plan design. During construction, the flats were designed in such a way that they can easily be divided up and reduced in size if necessary, should you need less space as you get older. But it’s not just the room layout that is modern and flexible: many flats are furnished with modular furniture and adapt to the flat sizes.
There is even a guest flat for carers. Staying here as long as possible. That is Johann’s wish and he is convinced that “we will be able to accommodate people with dementia here in this community for much longer, even those who have just entered old age and dementia, so to speak.”

Schräge Ansicht eines Inselmoduls und dessen Fronten.
Schräge Ansicht auf eine Küchenarbeitsplatte aus warmgewatzten

Off we go: the next phase of life

It was important to Johann and Andrea to respond to the architecture of the paper mill. Open rooms need open furnishing elements. With great taste and the courage to use green colours, the couple’s living space has a very refreshing effect. The centrepiece and also the centre of their living space is the WERK modular kitchen with a generous cooking island. It offers space for cooking sessions with friends of the community and therefore symbolises the housing project and its values.
We find the people and the idea behind this community simply fantastic and very inspiring. Thank you so much for letting us share this.

Nahaufnahme eines Kräuter- und Gewürzbehältnis.

Photography: Nils Junker