Showa Sekkei, Inc. reveal proposal for new school in the old Japanese capital
This project is a proposal for the renovation of the campus for women students at the Nara Bunka High School, located in a suburb of Nara, the ancient capital of Japan. The school requested a design suitable to a new educational environment, one that has a character unlike that of any other school. It is designed to be responsive to recent changes in Japanese society. The shift from large families to nuclear ones accelerated during the period of rapid economic growth, and now a large population bulge is ageing rapidly and the birth rate is declining.
The proposed layout features the preservation of the school ground’s lovely green landscape, which had been passed down over the generations as a long-standing tradition. The architects arranged the facilities carefully among the trees and shrubs. They provided ‘forest paths’ to organically link the new school building to the existing buildings, such as the gymnasium, music hall, nursery, and hall of residence. Whilst emphasising sports, culture and pre-school education as preeminent foci of this school, Showa Sekkei proposed the creation of a campus that is park-like and yet at the same time a liveable community. They envisioned the students developing their full humanity through their interactions with people of different generations and the inflow of citizens from the surrounding area.
The new two-storey school building, which makes up the core of this project, was designed as a group of sub-structures that are connected with corridors running among the trees. There are special-purpose classrooms on the ground floors, and all the general classrooms are located on the upper floors. Balconies and open corridors allow each classroom to blend smoothly with the continuous outdoor landscape whilst at the same time making use of passive energy to control the interior environment. The windows of the general classrooms on the upper floors look out over the lush foliage of the nearby trees, and classrooms which face each other intimately share the intervening space. The specified purpose for classrooms on the ground level can be opened up to allow them to be used flexibly for various purposes. This openness to the shared grounds enhances the likelihood of their use by people in the community and student interactions with people of different generations.