By Meghna Mehta – Yawara Nursery School in Hokkaido, Japan, by Kengo Kuma and Associates uses local larch wood and draws inspiration from the region known for the largest sunflower fields.
Kengo Kuma and Associates (KKAA) have designed a wooden nursery school in the grassy plains of Hokuryu town in Hokkaido prefecture, the former being home to the largest sunflower field in Japan. The design of the project follows from the ideas of biomimicry based on the theme of the ‘Sunflower Geometry’. Led by well-known Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the design for the Yawara Nursery School in northern Japan takes inspiration from its immediate context of large sunflower fields.
- The central hall, which indicates the centre of the sunflower petal geometry for the Yawara Nursery School in Hokkaido, JapanImage: Kawasumi, Courtesy Kobayashikenji Photograph Office
The project by KKAA was conceptualised on the biologically evident centripetal geometry of the petals of a sunflower and the planning of the spaces was further suggested by these ideas. The central hall has been designed as the heart of the building, which becomes the social focus of the school where children gather, communicate and interact. Further spreading out from the centre are the allied spaces created in a flower-shaped layout.
- The wooden structure has been created from locally produced larch woodImage: Kawasumi, Courtesy of Kobayashikenji Photograph Office
The structure and the frame of the school have been built using locally sourced larch wood. In the interiors, larch panel boards have been combined with larch plywood that not only insulates during the winters but also create a warm and friendly interior space for the young ones as wood is the most commonly used and familiar material of the region.
- The light fixtures in the shape of the sunflower using its natural coloursImage: Kawasumi, Courtesy of Kobayashikenji Photograph Office
In addition, the lighting fixtures have been covered with yellow cloth that has been dyed using the natural colours of sunflowers. These lights have been suspended throughout the school as symbols of a hanging garden while natural light pours into the building through the openings provided. “All of these features resulted in the birth of energetic warm space that perfectly suits a town known for its sunflowers,” says the team at KKAA.
The snow settles on the roof of the well-insulated wooden structure in the winters, creating a humble building that responds well to its context, climate and region.
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