Tomonoki-Himawari Kindergarten, located in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward, is a newly established private kindergarten with a capacity of 175 people. Seeing that the surrounding environment was densely populated by houses and factories, we aspired to create a space that would contribute to the growth of the children’s minds and bodies, and where the teachers and children could feel surrounded by nature. To achieve this, we arranged the classrooms and playroom to encircle the lush, green, light-filled garden to create a courtyard that brings the outside in.
To correspond with the children’s developmental changes, we set up diverse spaces such as classrooms with different ceiling heights, playhouses suspended above the courtyard, and outdoor corridors which are looped and differ in width so that the children can have a variety of spaces to play or rest in. Furthermore, the uses for each space was not decided beforehand in order to give the teachers and children the freedom to enjoy and use the spaces in ways that benefit them. As designers, we can appreciate the way spaces change for the people that use them.
To further stimulate and enrich the children’s sensitivity, the entire facility is planted three-dimensionally in a way that showcases the four seasons and the changes in vegetation. As nature transforms with the seasons, the insects and birds that the vegetation attracts can be enjoyed by the children and their parents. Inspired by these surroundings, natural motifs such as insects, trees, etc. are hidden within and around the building as patterns and objects, so that the children can enjoy the space by constantly discovering new things. As architects, we hope the special moments and memories made at Tomonoki-Himawari Kindergarten stay with the children even after graduation.