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- Sekisui House
The nursery stands on what used to be a wide green space with varying elements surrounding the site. A road and the town beyond to the north, an elevated highway with a footpath beneath it to the south, a communal path which cuts through the grounds, and an intersection to the east. We aimed to design around and work with each surrounding element so that the nursery can “face,” “feel,” “mingle” and “be open” with the town.
The façade of the building facing north is located closest to the town, and we anticipated some issues may arise with the neighboring community regarding noise, security and privacy. With the raised highway on the other side of the building, which is not the best situation you could hope for, the safest bet was to place a fenced-off play area on the north side. However, in order for the nursery to build a trusting relationship with the community, we felt that it was more important to “face” those issues rather than shutting itself off from them. To be able to see and to be seen, we suggested placing a corridor with a large opening along the front of the building, a strip of greenery as a buffer zone, with security ensured on the building side.
A play garden for 0-1 year olds is located south of the building, the same side as the raised highway with a public footpath beneath it. We placed perforated fencing to gently veil the section. This protects privacy while still allowing the community to "feel" the presence of the children and activities. We’ve also designed and incorporated various playground equipment for the children to enjoy.
The nursery entrance is located facing the communal path that cuts through the nursery grounds. Created as a small park of its own with benches under the shade of trees, it is a place for people to “mingle.” People connected with the nursery such as the children, parents, and teachers, as well as anyone from the close community, are all welcome. The stepped benches are fun for children to hop on and off.
The east side with indoor and outdoor play areas are “be open” to the public with things made clearly visible from the outside. A wooden deck walkway leads out from the play room like a pier to a large Japanese zelcova tree. The tree is also surrounded by wooden decking where children can run out barefoot to what feels like a tree house. The playground is divided up dynamically with reinforced concrete retaining walls, where children can play on varying terrain such as wavy mounds. Drawing inspiration from the logs that used to float in the local log pools in the past, we placed logs on the wavy mounds like balance beams. These logs were actually cut from trees felled from the grounds.