Kindergarten that don’t control children? Through design for kids surrounding
Kindergarten that don’t control children?
The building is only five meters tall with seven floors
This is a kindergarten we designed in 2007. 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.
This is how the rooftop looks. And why did we design this? The principal of this kindergarten said, “No, I don’t want a handrail.” I said, “It’s impossible.” But he insisted: “How about having a net sticking out from the edge of the roof? So that it can catch the children falling off?” (Laughter)
I said, “It’s impossible.” And of course, the government official said, “Of course you have to have a handrail.”
But we could keep that idea around the trees. There are three trees popping through. And we were allowed to call this rope as a handrail. But of course, rope is another thing to do with them. They fall into the net.
And you get more, and more, more. (Laughter) Sometimes 40 children are around a tree.
The boy on the branch, he loves the tree so he is eating the tree. (Laughter) And at the time of an event, they sit on the edge. It looks so nice from underneath. Monkeys in the zoo. (Laughter) Feeding time. (Laughter) (Applause)
And we made the roof as low as possible, because we wanted to see children on top of the roof, not only underneath the roof. And if the roof is too high, you see only the ceiling. And the leg washing place — there are many kinds of water taps.
You see with the flexible tubes, you want to spray water to your friends, and the shower, and the one in front is quite normal.
But if you look at this, the boy is not washing his boots, he’s putting water into his boots. (Laughter)
This kindergarten is completely open, most of the year. And there is no boundary between inside and outside.
So it means basically this architecture is a roof. And also there is no boundary between classrooms.
there is no acoustic barrier at all.
When you put many children in a quiet box, some of them get really nervous. But in this kindergarten, there is no reason they get nervous. Because there is no boundary. And the principal says if the boy in the corner doesn’t want to stay in the room, we let him go. He will come back eventually, because it’s a circle, it comes back. (Laughter)
But the point is, in that kind of occasion, usually children try to hide somewhere. But here, just they leave and come back. It’s a natural process.
And secondly, we consider noise very important. You know that children sleep better in noise. They don’t sleep in a quiet space.
And in this kindergarten, these children show amazing concentration in class.
And you know, our kind grew up in the jungle with noise. They need noise. And you know, you can talk to your friends in a noisy bar. You are not supposed to be in silence.
these days we are trying to make everything under control.
it’s completely open. And you should know that we can go skiing in -20 degrees in winter. In summer you go swimming. The sand is 50 degrees.
should know that you are waterproof (the skin). You never melt in rain. So, children are supposed to be outside.
So that is how we should treat them. This is how they divide classrooms. They are supposed to help teachers. They don’t. (Laughter) I didn’t put him in.
A classroom. And a washbasin. They talk to each other around the well. And there are always some trees in the classroom. A monkey trying to fish another monkey from above. (Laughter) Monkeys. (Laughter)
And each classroom has at least one skylight. And this is where Santa Claus comes down at the time of Christmas. This is the annex building, right next to that oval-shaped kindergarten.
The building is only five meters tall with seven floors. And of course, the ceiling height is very low. So you have to consider safety.
we put our children, a daughter and a son. They tried to go in. He hit his head. He’s okay. His skull is quite strong. He is resilient. It’s my son. (Laughter) And he is trying to see if it is safe to jump off.
And then we put other children. The traffic jam is awful in Tokyo, as you know. (Laughter) The driver in front, she needs to learn how to drive. Now these days, kids need a small dosage of danger.
And in this kind of occasion, they learn to help each other. This is society. This is the kind of opportunity we are losing these days.
this drawing is showing the movement of a boy between 9:10 and 9:30. And the circumference of this building is 183 meters. So it’s not exactly small at all. And this boy did 6,000 meters in the morning.
But the surprise is yet to come. The children in this kindergarten do 4,000 meters on average. And these children have the highest athletic abilities among many kindergartens.
The principal says, “I don’t train them. We leave them on top of the roof. Just like sheep.” (Laughter) They keep running. (Laughter)
My point is don’t control them, don’t protect them too much, and they need to tumble sometimes. They need to get some injury.
And that makes them learn how to live in this world. I think architecture is capable of changing this world, and people’s lives. And this is one of the attempts to change the lives of children.
“Don’t control them (children), don’t protect them too much, and they need to tumble sometimes. They need to get some injury. And that makes them learn how to live in this world.”
Take a look at how architecture and design can completely change a child’s routine!
Silvana, take Nora there when she’s older!