Now more than ever before, kids spend a great deal of their time in schools, kindergartens and daycare centres. For many kids, those places are basically the largest portion of their lives: the place where the live, rest, encounter others, experience their surroundings - which is a relatively new fact of life, in comparison with some decades ago.
Earlier on, schools and kindergartens served one simple function: to educate children. The function of a kindergarten today requires a fully different kind of building, with a different kind of atmosphere, than the classic form of a school.
A contemporary kindergarten needs to appeal to the child, to provide them with a sheltered, comfortable place, but at the same time needs to challenge children to explore and to invent. Both functions seem to be heading in different directions: at one hand, the building should be about security (in all aspects of the word) - and at the other hand, the building should be about adventure.
In a building for a kindergarten / Montesori-school in Fuji (Japan), Takaharu+Yui Tezuka architects found a perfect amalgamation of what a contemporary kindergarten means to children. Everything in the building is designed to fit the scale of a child. Ceiling heights are a maximum of 2100mm and all furniture is leightweight enough for a child to pick up, for instance.
The oval shaped building encompasses an interior courtyard, which is something of a safe haven for children to play - in the middle of the city. But at the same time, the building isn't aiming to turn itself away from the city completely. This is where the extremely low ceiling height comes into play: aside from fitting the building to the scale of a child, it gives way for a close relation between ground level and roof. The entire roof is accessible as a playing field - which is a space for joy and adventure - but also a different way to experience and see the surrounding city for the children.
As a nice extra touch, three large, existing Zekova trees remained on site and are incorporated into the new building. The most common way would be to build the oval building around the trees, placing the trees (conveniently) in the courtyard. But that might have made the building a bit too "perfectly cute". The trees are actually passing through the building, giving the clean shape a little rough edge. And that little thing gives the building a lot of extra character. It's a bit like a really goodlooking person, that gets more personality in the appearance because of a remarkable scar.
I found this building via noticiasarquitectura.info, where you can find more pictures and some drawings, too.