A breath of fresh air

Sian
Friday 26 Feb 2010

New transparent school built in the centre of Yokohama woodland

Hongodai is a complex facility made up of a private school and a nursery operated by a protestant church. The site is in a green area of Yokohama, surrounded by playgrounds, parks and small hills. The plan is to blend a place for children (ranging from nursery to 3rd year high school students) with the green forest.

The line drawn with one stroke runs through the forest whilst dodging and surrounding trees. It is placed in the forest as a simple grid with wooden frames. For the safety of the children, steel frames in the five courts play a part in providing better earthquake resistance, in the construction of a transparent grid with wooden frames, wooden floors and wooden sashes.Sliding glass doors are the interfaces between the inside and outside. Sunshine filters through the trees into the building and the breeze wafting through the forest also wafts straight inside. Being inside the building is just like being in the forest and the exterior of the building also seems to belong in the building, making it possible for the children to alternate between the two as they wish.

Morning service is held in the hall on the second floor, and then the children each go to their designated areas. The children in nursery run through the forest and eat their lunches under the trees. Lessons are held under the sunlight filtering down through tree canopy and picture books are read in the forest.This architecture is representing a new idea about how we should build in forests. It is not too artificially controlled, with the hope that this broad-minded architecture between the natural and the artificial will be the place where children can feel free and be themselves.

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