Designed collaboratively by HIBINOSEKKEI + youji no shiro, the D1 kindergarten and Nursery in Kumamoto, Japan features a highly malleable internal organisation that can be changed in accordance with the needs of teachers and students on any given day.
No partitions are present in the classrooms, aside from small furnishings that visually separate the open interior. The entire interior is a transparent, semi-outdoor space, inviting the elements inside, while at night the structure becomes transparent.
The building is surrounded with an external covered pathway that blocks strong sunlight and rain. During warm days, classrooms can be opened fully and ventilated with natural, breezy air. In the center of the school, a massive atrium delineates an open courtyard area.
Aside from functioning as an impromptu lunch room, the centre of this open courtyard area, which is basin-shaped, can also become a water-filled play area, allowing students the opportunity to engage with their environment directly. In winter, snow and water caught in this basin freezes, creating a skating rink.
Students are encouraged to understand responsibility and are required to buy all needed equipment: chair, cubby, desk, etc. After graduation they take their items home, bringing about an annual update of the school’s equipment at no additional cost to the institution.
D1 kindergarten and Nursery gives a high degree of freedom to children and educators alike, and contributes positively to the ongoing rethinking of childhood learning in direct connection with an interactive and flexible educational space.