MISATO – Located in a residential neighbourhood one hour's drive from Tokyo, Yutaka Kindergarten features classrooms that surround kids in what looks and feels like a mountainous landscape.The school was designed by architect Daisuke Sugawara, who responded to a brief that asked for a learning environment which would nurture children to actively develop their own personalities and to socialize with others regardless of age. Rather than confining pupils to one room, the rectangular building facilitates movement and participation. Six classrooms are arranged around a common area where children of different ages play together.
The use of partitions makes the individual rooms feel almost like a single space. Cut-out panels of layered plywood form the silhouetted foothills and slopes of mountains whose peaks help to support the ceiling. The mountain range dips down to 120 cm at its lowest height – high enough for children to be immersed in their own world yet low enough for staff to keep an eye on adjacent spaces. Glossy ceilings reflect activity happening 'over the fence', urging curious kids to investigate.
Photos Jérémie Souteyrat