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Japan-based teamLab Architects, an interdisciplinary creative group, has designed a nursery school in Nagareyama, Japan. This playschool is known as the KidsLabo Minami-Nagareyama Nursery and features a colourful U-shaped building, which is conceptualised in such a way so as to give children the opportunity to be prepared for the future. The designers have employed a number of architectural strategies to provide the children with the experience and mindset needed in an information society. For instance, the nursery is a two-storey, polygonal space where kids can enjoy various activities together. As this polygonal space has numerous areas with no distinctive centre and boundaries, the children can engage in diverse activities while sharing the same space.
“In an information society, the way we work continues to change dramatically. Rather than continuing to work in the same job or occupation from the time you start until retirement, as was the case before the information society, there is now a need to change your job function and collaborate with people from different fields (to co-create) in order to realise something. In such an age, we believe that we need places that affirm diversity starting in early childhood, places where children can experience spending time with a diverse array of people,” mentions Kawata Shogo, Founder of teamLab Architects.
This nursery school is situated in a new residential neighbourhood of Nagareyama, Japan. It features a hip roof design like the buildings in the surrounding area. teamLab Architects built the hip roof as a collection of multiple roofs around an inner courtyard rather than a single roof. They did this in order to express the idea of multiple people coming together and consulting one another just like that in an information society. Moreover, the roofs also comprise skylights that let in tons of natural light into the space.
The school’s different rooms and areas do not have any definite boundaries. The nursery features two gardens—an outdoor garden and an indoor-outdoor garden. The boundaries between the two gardens are blurred and the inner garden is connected to the indoor rooms. Therefore, children in each space can see the other areas clearly and feel connected to them at all times. Also, the inner garden creates an ambiguous space to play in, between the indoors and outdoors. Furthermore, this nursery was designed to be an environment where the children make the rules. It’s a simple space wherein children can work together to come up with their own rules and play.
In addition to creating a space with no boundaries and no rules, the architects built the nursery to house uneven ground, a pond, netted surfaces and sand pits where the kids can play with their entire bodies. This was done to teach the children spatial awareness, which is needed in an information society. “One of the abilities needed in an information society is spatial awareness. It is believed to be possible to train the body and brain at the same time in places where the body is unstable due to a complex environment, such as multi-dimensional forests and mountains, where it is difficult to comprehend the entire space by sight alone,” adds Shogo.
Another feature that stands out about the nursery is that the colours used are as disconnected as possible. Red roofs clash with blue façade and pops of striking hues can be seen throughout the interiors. The designers did this to encourage the children to be themselves and be accepting of diverse personalities as well. “A space is an area where you can affect change on the other people there. If a space that affirms diversity is created, the people in that space will affirm diversity. And if a space that encourages movement in unstable environments is created, people will naturally develop greater spatial awareness. In this nursery school, we hope to give children the opportunity to gain the experience and mindset needed in an information society,” concludes Shogo.
Name: KidsLabo Minami-Nagareyama Nursery
Location: 18 Ki, Nagareyama, Chiba
Architects: teamLab Architects
Completion: March 16, 2021
Site Area: 634.54 m2
Building Area: 348.43 m2
Gross Floor Area：497.39m2
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