Fuji Kindergarten, Tokyo, Japan
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Year built: 2007
Architect: Tezuka Architects
Fiji Kindergarten, designed by Tezuka Architects, was completed in 2007. This innovative project was tailor-made for its young users, preschoolers, and it successfully transcends the conventional boundaries between classrooms and play areas. The architectural design includes large interior sliding doors that seamlessly connect the indoor and outdoor environments, opening up to an expansive grass oval field.
Situated in the heart of Tokyo, Japan, this single-story building takes on an oval shape. The ground floor houses the classrooms, while a timber roof deck offers panoramic views of Tokyo and the oval grass field, also serving as the roof for the ground floor. Thanks to the structural oval design, those inside the ground floor can enjoy a wide-angle view of the entire kindergarten. To embrace nature, a crucial aspect of Japanese architecture, the roof features three cutouts where zelkova trees protrude, preserving a piece of natural history spanning over 25 years.
The architects have paid meticulous attention to detail to enhance both the building’s usability and its functionality. Strategically placed interactive skylights maximize natural light and allow kindergarteners to peer down into the ground floor. These skylights serve as access points, complete with ladders leading from the ground floor to the roof deck.
Adding a playful and creative touch, slides have been incorporated to provide an alternative means of descending from the upper deck to the ground floor. This design choice showcases the architect’s thoughtful consideration for the needs of the young occupants.
Tezuka Architects envisioned a space where children could learn to adapt to society without excluding anything or anyone. This philosophy is embodied in the boundary-less oval-shaped design, with the gentle hum of everyday life serving as a backdrop. In a world increasingly dominated by digital devices, Tezuka believed in the importance of children experiencing the natural world without the aid of a screen.
The project received the 2017 Moriyama RAIC International Award for its ability to harmonize with and respond to the societal context of its surroundings. Takaharu Tezuka, the architect, expressed his satisfaction with the recognition, emphasizing the multi-layered ideas behind what might appear to be a simple structure.
Upon my first glimpse of this building, I was captivated by this project. Although it embodies a seemingly simple concept, the intricate functionality and design elements, including the interactive skylights, the inventive slide access, and the distinctive enclosed structure, breathe life into this project. I can’t help but envision myself as a child, brimming with excitement at the prospect of entering this imaginative space. – Jessica Wei
Image courtesy of Tezuka Architects