Hanazono Kindergarten designed to endure typhoons

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Hanazono Kindergarten designed to endure typhoons and offer outdoor play spaces

The Japanese island of Miyako-jima is prone to frequent typhoons, so this kindergarten was planned by studios Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro to offer children protection from heavy rain and flying debris (+ slideshow).

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

Located approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of Taiwan, Miyako-jima is the largest and most populous of the Miyako Islands. Tasked with designing a nursery there, architecture office Hibino Sekkei and sister company Youji no Shiro, which specialises in design for children, had to consider weather and climate conditions before anything else.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

"Miyako-jima belongs to a subtropical oceanic climate," said architect Taku Hibino. "The building is required to be closed for making shade, and also open for ventilation, because the hot and humid climate causes many typhoon attacks."

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

Responding to this, the architects designed a two-storey structure with a steel-reinforced concrete framework, created to endure a "typhoon invasion".

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

Walls are clad in red ceramic tiles, designed to match the red roofing materials typical to the region, while windows and courtyards are framed by screens and canopies constructed from hollow concrete blocks.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

"Concrete blocks with holes, a typical building material from this area, offer protection from flying objects and shut out the sunlight while keeping views and wind," said Hibino.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

Named Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery, the building is long and narrow in plan. At one end is a garden featuring playground apparatus and a cave-like grotto, as well as more secluded courtyards and terraces.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

The ground floor was designed as one large continuous space, allowing it to accommodate a variety of activities.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

At the north end, the main activity space and an art studio are housed in one room, separated only by a folding partition. Glass doors at both ends of the room allow play to spill out to the lawn and a central decked courtyard.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

The dining room and kitchen are located across the courtyard, and open out to a narrower deck and garden that faces south.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

"It became one large space and wind blows through when you open the windows," added the architect.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

Other features on this level include a structure called the shoebox corner, which extends through the facade so that one half of it is outside. Its walls are painted with blackboard paint so children can make chalk drawings on its surface.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

Upstairs, there are six rooms where children can stay overnight. These have been painted in different vibrant shades and some include wooden mezzanines accessed by ladders.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro

Photography is by Studio Bauhaus/Ryuji Inoue.

Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro
Site plan – click for larger image
Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro
First floor plan – click for larger image
Hanazono Kindergarten and Nursery in Okinawa by Hibino Sekkei and Youji no Shiro
Sections – click for larger image