Whoever said architecture brings happiness, probably had something like this in mind. Mi-chan is a 13-year old girl living with a psychiatric disorder that makes it difficult for her to engage with others. But when she was 10 she discovered her love for baking pastries. So her parents built her a “Sweets Factory” designed to fulfill her dream to have her own store and bring joy to people through pastries.

In order to raise money for the tiny bakery to be built, Mi-chan’s parents turned to Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake, where they successfully raised over double their original goal of 1 million yen (about $10k usd). They recruited architect Sumio Mizumoto of Alts Design Office to come up with a plan for the bakery right outside the family’s home and nestled in a residential neighborhood of Shiga prefecture.

Mizumoto’s plan called for half of the building to be made of glass that allows sunlight to come in and make the space feel spacious and translucent. The other half was kept private: a space where Mi-chan could fully exert her above-normal levels of concentration and creativity. A seamless connection of interior and exterior creates a vibrant, inviting atmosphere where she is able to indirectly maintain links with society. The project, which opened earlier this year, was the recipient of a 2020 Good Design Award.

Mi-chan’s Sweets Factory is typically only open on the weekends but if you’re thinking of visiting, check the calendar on her website before you go.

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