Siblings Kentaro and Tamaki Nara had been operating Clover International School out of their home. Located in the small town of Okazaki in Aichi prefecture, the school specializes in teaching kids English and Chinese from an early age. But when their home became too small and unfit for expanding, the siblings were faced with a choice.
The school’s philosophy was to serve as “a second home” to their students, and the fact that it operated out of the educator’s own home helped reinforce this. So instead of relocating, the siblings decided to commission Ma Yansong of global architecture firm MAD to create what would become their first project in Japan.
“It was important to create a kindergarten that felt like a home, and give the kids the best possible house to grow up in, one that promotes their learning and creativity,” said Yansong, who oversaw the transformation of the old Japanese home to modern educational institution. The architects made a decision to recycle the existing wooden skeleton, essentially cloaking it with new skin. This helped to not only save on costs but also maintain familiarity, serving as a visual symbol of how the school used to look.
The new skin features windows shaped in various geometric forms recognizable to children. They allow sunlight to filter into the home, creating ever-changing shadows. “We have designed the building from a child’s point of view, and the layout focuses on creating intimate and diverse spaces,” said Yansong.