A nursery school was rebuilt on a sloping site in Mito, Ibaraki. Over the years, the old building had an inorganic and flat playground with little connection to the building, even though the surrounding terrain had a difference in elevation.
Project name: IK Nursery
Address: Mito, Ibaraki, Japan
Design: HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji no Shiro + KIDS DESIGN LABO
Site area: 3,275.93 sqm
Building area: 834.77 sqm
Floor area: 1,388.77 sqm
Number of floors: 2 floors
Completion: November 2021
Photo credit: Toshinari Soga（studio BAUHAUS）
The rebuilding was designed based on the concept of ‘a school of the earth that nurtures children’s bodies and minds’, where the garden is connected to the building to encourage three-dimensional play, making use of the difference in elevation of the surrounding terrain to create a varied playground.
The undulating playground has a circulation system, with the intention of creating a series of play activities that the children can devise on their own, naturally increasing their physical activity and nurturing strong bodies. A hill and a bridge in the middle of the playground provide a direct link between the building and the playground, while allowing the children to feel each other’s presence and voices. In addition, space like a verge half buried in the ground has play equipment such as rock climbing, swings, monkey bars, and hammocks to allow children to exercise in the open air, even when it rains. From this place, there is a route out to the playground as well as directly to the building, creating a circulation system that also includes the building.
Inside the school building, steps have been purposely planned in various places, such as the dining room and toilet, to create an environment where the inside and outside are united and where the children can continue to feel nature. The garden, with its changing seasons and signs of plants and animals, and exterior wall materials that reflect the colors of the sky from morning to night, allow children to feel the changing time with the earth.