In a built-up area of Kobe, Japanese practice Tadashi Suga Architects have completed the Takeno Nursery School.
Positioned on a prominent corner plot surrounded by busy roads, the design team positioned the playground at the center of the plan, with the building constructed along the site’s boundaries.
At the upper level, a green roof overlooks the internal courtyard. Careful scaling to the street has been paid with the levels not exceeding single storey - thus softening the junction with the neighbouring street.
The internal courtyard play area remains open to fresh sunlight and air, yet provides an enveloping enclosure for health and safety.
Predominantly natural materials, large sliding doors on the ground level and upper clerestory mechanically controlled windows continue the theme of the courtyard theme and in providing a healthy environment for the young children.
Above, the entrance is "cut" into the center's mass and is further marked with a yellow fence and signage appended to the buildings cedar-clad curving exterior.
Some parking is provided for on the ground floor with space being maximised with the top storey being cantilevered over "piloti". A glass balustrade on the rooftop minimises the frontage of the building to the street.
I particularly like the architect's treatment of the structural columns, the stained timber symbolising a trunk with a branch to hold the level above. A rounded edge is provided also at the child's height to minimise risk of injury and also allows the child to sit / stand on or jump off.
A tree in the centre further grounds the concept of the central outdoor courtyard and its prominence in the kindergarten.
A simple purple steel framed, glass panelled railing (combined with the yellow entrance version) adds subtle pops of colour into an otherwise pared back material palette.
Ground Floor Plan - showing the playground structure, a sand pit, a water play area and garden. The playroom is double height with a mezzanine level overlooking it from above (see below).
Level 1 Plan - showing the green space, a deck and even a vegetable garden. The Level 1 "L" plan allows a mezzanine type connection to the floor's activities below.