Kindergarten is supposed to be a place where kids are free to run about and explore their surroundings. Childhood is a crucial time for the tiny toddlers to develop all their sensory and motor skills so they can grow up healthily and perform daily tasks easily.
This kindergarten in Tokyo, Japan have a design that enabled children to do just that.
Takaharu Tezuka, has designed an oval-shaped kindergarten where children can around on top of the roof endlessly. The concept, he explained is based on ‘nostalgic future’ whereby children are observed to be naturally drawn towards physical and active activities rather than occupying themselves with gadgets and screens. He then facilitated it with future-forward designs.
“We made this kindergarten to be a circle. It’s a kind of endless circulation on top of the roof. If you are a parent, you know that kids love to keep making circles” said Takahru
There are no walls in this kindergarten so children are not separated by boundaries. They learned to socialize and play with each other. This contributed to their social skills where they learn to be fair to everybody and be part of a group. Takaharu also explained that when children are left inside a quiet box, they sometimes became nervous. In this kindergarten, there is no reason to be.
The perimeter of the entire lot is 183 m, made for 500 children. It is conceived as a single village. The interior is an integrated space softly partitioned with furniture. Projecting through the roof deck are three preserved Zelkova trees with 25 m in height.
The school followed the Montessori Method, an educational approach where children are given freedom to move around the classroom and learn via discovery
Children are allowed to move about freely, fall down and get wet within a safe environment
Play equipment are not installed. Instead, children used the natural environment provided as their giant playground. They would climb the trees, run around, play in the sand, and splash in the water.
The handrails around the edge of the roof acted as a safety barrier and allowed the inner courtyard to be turned into an arena. The railings were close enough together that children won’t get their heads stuck, but allowed them to sit with their legs dangling through. The roof height is only 2.1 m tall. It provided visibility for teachers and staff to monitor the children from below.
For Takaharu, he believed that children need to experience some risks and injury so they may learn how to live in this world.
“There needs to be a “small dosage of danger… Just as a fish cannot live in purified water, children cannot live in a clean, quiet and controlled environment” said Takaharu
The standard classroom design according to Takaharu is unnatural and counter productive to provide a positive learning environment. The free plan design encouraged independence and collaboration, without forcing children to sit still and silent for long periods of time.
In other words, children are allowed to be children in this special kindergarten
For a kid, being able to make noise and run freely caters to their instinctive needs. It is an essential period of their age where it is important for them to learn as much which contributes to their physical, social, mental, and emotional growth.
With the challenges of the digital age, this refreshingly creative and successful idea on kindergarten could be what the future generation needs.