This is making we want to be a kid again. Tezuka Architects recently completed a new addition to Fuji Yochien, a private preschool located in the western suburbs of Tokyo, which they designed back in 2007. Ring Around a Tree (2011), which was built as a designated learning center for English language classes, appears as a structure that winds itself around one of the large Keyaki trees on campus. It was given that name by architect Peter Cook, who visited the site and was reminded of the song, “Ring Around a Rosy.”
Ring Around a Tree was designed to complement the donut-shaped main building, who’s form allows it to be inherently contiguous. One of the primary objectives, says art director Kashiwa Sato, is to nurture an abounding creativity. While acting as the walls to a classroom, the structure, at its core, is a one gigantic jungle gym. Children are encouraged to come up with their own rules without being hampered by traditional styles of learning. It’s architecture that facilitates development and learning through play.
One of the things I find most fascinating about this structure is that, despite being built around a tree, in no way does it overshadow the tree. In fact, its transparency only enhances the overwhelming force of nature that emanates from the tree.