Asahi Kindergarten | The Plan
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Asahi Kindergarten

Tezuka Architects

Rebuilding a public facility in an area stricken by the 2011 tsunami is a way of reaffirming hope and forging a future based on the traditions of the past. Both the location and materials used to build the Asahi nursery school in Minamisanriku in Japan’s prefecture of Miyagi hark back to ancient wisdom and craft skills that are here carried forward to inform the values of tomorrow.
Set on a small hillock, the new building is made entirely of timber. Every piece - from pillars and beams to flooring and frames - comes from giant trees planted some 400 years ago after a tidal wave in 1611 and felled by the destructive force of the last tsunami.
By combining old and new - ancient timber to create contemporary spaces, and ancient building techniques that do not make use of a single metal joint - this new building on a hill takes time-honoured know-how into the future.
Set above the road level, the kindergarten is reached by a flight of stairs and gentle ramp. An open forecourt stands before the building, a square volume slightly raised off the ground with a small terrace running all around it. The flat roof, supported by regularly spaced beams and sturdy columns, has an overhang with a joist-lined soffit that extends sufficiently to protect the terrace from the elements. This intermediate area becomes a continuation of the interiors when the large sliding glass doors along the façade are open. The raised floor plan and canopy roof create two unusual play areas for the delight of the young occupants: a balcony protected from the sun and rain, and underneath it, between the ground and the “roof” of the terrace, another protected area for hide-and-seek and other games.
Inside, spatial distribution can be altered to requirement: sliding partitions can divide the large open square surface into four classrooms. The bathrooms are located in a compact linear block.
Every piece of furniture - benches, tables, chairs and...

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