Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Shichigahama Tohyama Nursery in Miyagi prefecture, JAPAN by Ippei Takahashi + TAKAHASHI IPPEI OFFICE
April 10th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Ippei Takahashi + TAKAHASHI IPPEI OFFICE
This is a reconstruction project for a public nursery affected by the 2011 earthquake in Japan. I hoped the new building to be in harmony with its surrounding environment and not to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in this town scape. Also, the town people wanted it to be a monument for reconstruction, evoking both unity and eternity.
In order to achieve these objectives, I decided to keep the height of the building low, rendering its structure horizontal. As a result, it has a modest appearance, with a large courtyard which does not feel claustrophobic. Then the building’s presence becomes a small part of nature and integrates with the outside environment. With a number of loggias which faces this courtyard, children can run around the nursery both indoors and outdoors. In this sense, the new nursery school is “well-ventilated”. The thought behind this is similar to that of ancient monuments in ruins. In other words, this nursery is not a \”building\” but an \”environment\” where children and adults can spend time “in the fields” together. Then the environment makes it feel liberated and unconventional.
The outer part was designed with many conversations with people living in the neighboring area. It was the best way that the townspeople can mutually share the feeling of creating the nursery with an architect (me) under the circumstances after the disaster. I did not install their requests in the black box building. Instead, I directly arranged them “in the fields” surrounding the courtyard in a circle and set up them austerely with light steel frames, so that viewers can visualize the process of construction. I thought the process will be the town’s history and then be a monument. The building is complexly shaped due to respond to their wishes, but it generates a variety of experiences and operates as if it were a small village. The square courtyard is seen as a symbolic hollow and functions as order for the chaotic aggregates.
At the front, there is a lounge with a wide, open gate where local residents can gather and communicate with one another in a friendly environment. This is more than a nursery school, it’s a public garden for the town people as a symbol of reconstruction.
The \”sparkling wall\” is made of 0.3mm thin stainless sheets as an envelop of the building. I wanted to create the sense of going through a \”byobu\” (Japanese folding screen) which craftsmen paste, as opposed to that of simply entering a building with prefabricated panels. I also gave its walls durability, because it is located near the ocean. Moreover, the reason for this dazzling wall is to reset the visitors’ minds with a start breathtakingly, make them experience with fresh eyes, and remind the memory of the reconstruction with everybody’s effort while they are so easy to forget it in daily busyness.