For its 50th anniversary, Ogura Asahi Kindergarten in Saitama, Japan upcycled stacked shipping containers into an earthquake-resistant and environmentally friendly kindergarten. These alternative structures were completed in a relatively short amount of time in 2016 by Hibinosekkei + Youji No Shiro, architects who specialize in the construction of children’s facilities. The reconstruction strives to send an educational message to OA kindergarteners about reuse and green living.
Buildings made of upcycled shipping containers have been popping up all over the place recently, from schools in Costa Mesa to daycares in London. This trendy green building technique utilizes prefabricated materials to create a striking visual statement that emphasizes environmental responsibility and upcycling. The interior of each structure is softened with warm timber panels, with large windows opening up into the nursery and the classroom.
By using shipping containers and conserving energy in the entire construction process, the architects hope to send a valuable lesson to both the children and their parents abut the importance of conserving our limited resources.
Japanese kindergarten culture itself is fascinating. The application process to a kindergarten is both competitive and time-consuming, as expensive slots will often open on a first-come, first-serve basis so that parents will line up around the block at 2 or 3 am for their child. Once a child has been accepted, some kindergartens demand that parents hand-craft (and sometimes embroider) an assortment of bags, daily bento boxes, labelled indoor slippers, and durable outdoor sneakers.
While Ogura Asahi Kindergarten emphasizes environmental responsibility and stylish beautiful interiors, Japanese kindergartens vary in their offerings, from schools that specialize in Western Montessori methods suitable for foreign children, to schools whose curriculum place especial heft on music and crafts activities.
Ogura Asahi Kindergarten is located in Saitama, just 30 minutes North of Tokyo. Who wouldn’t want their kid to enroll in a green kindergarten protected from earthquakes, with beautiful facilities and a 50 year relationship with the neighbors?