What is it about puddles of water that makes kids want to jump right into them with all their might? It’s no doubt that outdoor play, whatever the weather, is a necessity of childhood. So if there’s any place where kids should be allowed to be kids, without being subject to the cringes and shouts of adults who are overly concerned about wet shoes, socks and pants (don’t even mention the mud), that place is preschool.
Usually when it rain, kids aren’t allowed to play outside until the ground is dry. But the new Dai-ichi Yochien in Kumamoto City is designed to make sure the puddles stay exactly where they are.
The courtyard of the school is designed to accumulate rain water so that after a heavy downpour there is a gigantic, pool-like puddle just waiting for the kids to come out and play, explains Taku Hibino. The lead architect at Hibino Sekkei designed the courtyard so that on dry days it can function as a badminton or softball court and in the winter it can even be converted to an ice skating rink. Rain or shine, these kids will always be able to go outside.
Hibino Sekkei, and their Youji no Shiro brand, specialize in designing early education facilities. You can read more about them here.
The school itself was designed with an open floorplan in order to foster a curriculum that’s both flexible and unconstrained. Furniture is used as partitions and teachers are encouraged to mix up different classes. Students are asked to purchase their own desk and chair, which they keep and eventually take home after graduating. This keeps a continual flow of new furniture into the school, which helps in maintaining a fresh and clean aesthetic.