MAD Architects converts home into a kindergarten in Japan

by Cheryl Lau on Nov 15, 2016 in Architecture
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(All images courtesy Fuji Koji, Dan Honda)

(All images courtesy Fuji Koji, Dan Honda)

MAD Architects has completed its design for The Clover House, a kindergarten which is the first work by the practice in Japan 

Situated in a small town of Okazaki and the school has naturalistic views of paddy fields and mountains.  

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Prior to the newly designed campus, the kindergarten previously operated in an old family home by siblings Kentaro and Tamaki Nara.  However their educational goals outweighed the size of the home, so they decided to expand into a larger campus.  The concept of the new institution was to provide a modern nurturing setting for children so they could grow and learn as if they were at home with love, care and comfort.  

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"It was important to create a kindergarten that felt like a home, and give the kids the best possible house to grow up in, one that promotes their learning and creativity," stated Ma Yansong, founder and principal partner of MAD Architects. 

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The transformation began with the investigation of the existing 105 sq-m house then it was prefabricated.  In order to keep construction costs to the minimum, the existing wood structure of the original house was recycled to remain in the new building's design.  The original wooden structure occurs in the main learning area as a symbolic structure of The Clover House's history.  

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With translucent spaces, it allows natural lighting to sift through creating different shadows that play with students' curiosity and trigger imagination.  "We have designed the building from a child's point of view, and the layout focuses on creating intimate and diverse spaces," said Ma Yansong.

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The new house has an outer layer structure that wraps the original wooden structure like a mask; an interesting transition between the old and new. 

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The pitched roof is the highlight of The Clover House as it forms dynamic interior spaces within and also differentiates itself on the outside from the traditional assembly-line residence.  The outer layer uses soft roofing materials like asphalt shingles that give a waterproof strong core to wrap the whole structure with a paper-like sheath.

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"We wanted to create a playful piece of architecture that would stay in the memory of the kinds when they have grown up," states Ma Yansong.  By contributing to the playfulness element, a slide is added at the second floor of the building that descends to an outdoor play area and an open courtyard in front of the building.

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