Fuji Kindergarten

The request from the kindergarten directors was extremely simple in content: “we want you to make a Roof House for five hundred kindergarten pupils.” The Roof House is a work we completed in 2001. The Roof House told us everything. 147;In summer the roof is hot, so we go out in the morning and evening. In winter the roof is cold, so the afternoon is good.148; These comments from the owners of the Roof House penetrated to the essence of the architecture. The Roof House is the mother of the kindergarten.

The oval shape did not emerge easily. It was a shame that the existing kindergarten building was not connected in a loop. We definitely wanted to make a space without dead ends. However, as three large zelkova trees obstructed us, it just couldn146;t become circular. Riding the train one day, we suddenly drew an oval that avoided the trees, and seeing how much better it was, we used it unchanged as the shape.

To preserve a tree is to preserve its roots. With regard to zelkova trees, the spread of the roots is only the span of the branches. Therefore, no foundations are laid around the tree roots. To prevent the areas around the roots being infiltrated by the alkali compounds in concrete, a sheet underlay was installed prior to the leveling concrete. The digging and soil stabilization proceeded while avoiding the roots, and it was more like an excavation site than a construction site.

The eaves have been lowered to the legally permitted limit. The height of the ceiling facing the courtyard is only 2.1m, which is sufficient for a child. Looking at the roof on the other side of the courtyard, events on the roof can simultaneously be seen. The roof deck slopes toward the courtyard, so even if a person goes further back on the roof, their whole body is visible, right down to their feet.

In this kindergarten, there are no distinctions between the children. The building has no hidden places where the problems in schools over recent years, including bullying, basically start. What occurs in closed spaces is unknown. The children have no refuge. Teachers and pupils in closed spaces don146;t know what is occurring in the adjacent spaces. The spaces in this kindergarten are in full view of each other.

Modern conveniences have deprived children of sensation. They don146;t know the soil gets wet when it rains or one gets injured if a person is hit. What we want to teach through this building is “common sense.148; Common sense comprises those values of human society that are unchanging, even across eras. At the Roof House, where we often visit even today, the atmosphere flows unchanged from those days. We think the Roof House will be probably unchanged when this married couple reaches the end of their lives. And we think that the Fuji Kindergarten will stay the same even after fifty years and more.


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