Fuji Kindergarten Fosters Open Learning
Frequent readers of PSFK will note we’ve been keeping an eye on inspired school designs that aim to create innovative places for learning. The recent renovation of the Fuji Kindergarten in the Tokyo suburb of Tachikawa definitely got our attention. The project is the result of work by Tezuka Architects and a collaboration with designer Kashiwa Sato (who contributed to the design of the New York Uniqlo store) to expand the building but retain the schools unique spirit. Fuji is known for it’s Montessori teaching methods and open-minded policy that all children are welcome no matter what economic background their families have.
The architects resulting design is a circular building with a large interior courtyard. The building’s roof is a wooden deck that the children can use as a play space. The site contained several existing trees which the architects left and built the structure around. There’s rope ladders on the trees that the kids can use to climb on. The most striking (and controversial) part of the interior of the building is there are no solid walls. Even the bathrooms are as barrier free as possible. The intention was to create as open a space as possible and to reduce the confining barrier of walls in regards to learning. Even signs with school rules were kept to a minimum to emphasize personal responsibility in the young students.
Adjacent to the school is a farming area where the children grow vegetables and keep rabbits and goats. The school intends to plant grass in the courtyard for the goats to graze on and use the milk to make cheese for the children.
540 students attend the school and there is a huge waiting list to enter. The staff intends to expand the enrollment to 650 soon which will make Fuji the largest kindergarten in Japan in a single building.
More photos here.