Officially tagged the Leimond-Shonaka Nursery School, this multi-prize winning project is a fine example of dual creative energies – that of architects Yoshihiro Hirotani and Yusaku Ishida – coming together to design a space for architecture and art to unite in an unending time mode.
The brains behind Archivision Hirotani Studio are Yoshihiro Hirotani and Yusaku Ishida, both architecture graduates from Tokyo City University, who joined creative forces in 2006 to establish Archivision Hirotani Studio in the Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Prefecture in Japan.
Since the beginning of their partnership, the designer duo have been rewarded for their futuristic and original architectural vision. A sort of trend that began with winning the Architecture of Toyama Prefecture prize for their design of the Fukusawa-chiku Community Center in 2006. This was followed by the Chubu Architecture Award in 2007 for the Omi-chiku Community Center, JCD BEST 100 for Omi-chiku Community Center as well as the 33rd Tokyo Architecture Award for N35EAST project.
The duo continued to display their winning streak with the 2011 Good Design Prize for the Leimond Nursery Schoolin Nagahama, which was a double honour project for them, since they also received the Kids Design Award 2011 for this project.
The design foundation of the project was based on creating a nursery facility for 140 children in the age group of zero to five years within the Asahi city (located in Owari district) Aichi prefecture, but with the unique approach to capturing most activities of daily living and their typically separated zones (e.g. play, dining and wash-up areas) in one continuous and cohesive whole.
The designers understood through their research and knowledge of generally accepted nursery design spread through the city areas that in the majority of childcare facilities, these functions were spread out across different zones that were clearly demarcated. They wanted to avoid this hackneyed architectural scheme all together and wrap the sleeping, playing, bathroom and eating zones in one receptacle that would not be bound by any time mode.
To realise their aim of capturing these daily activities of the children within their futuristic vision of a co-mingled time receptacle, they conceptualised laying out the architecture and plotting of the artwork by making sustained efforts to create a 3-D picture book-like effect for their mental picture of a modern nursery facility.
What’s more striking is the masterful use of the overlapping technique to achieve the objective of separately sequestering a design that would place the functional form of the floor plan and impress the image of the entire space in one continued vision.
Thus, it was solely for the purpose of achieving the three dimensional effect that the designers reverted to using the overlap style, which naturally called for a continuity of spaces to be arranged inside the periphery of ceiling and wall units that were wainscoted to give a tunnel – like effect.
These spaces were further boosted in their imagery by the existence of different sizes of arch-shaped openings that were used to join these zones visually as well as functionally – a move that helped create a divergence of walls and openings into other rooms.
Any division of functional spaces was in turn, obscured by this design move, which was thought of as an aesthetic alternative to the traditional notion of ‘rooms’ restricted by walls, or block- like zones.
Instead, rather creatively, these divisions of design served as a creative composition in wall art that also enabled the children attending the nursery to visit the underground cities, go inside submarines, experience life underwater, feel what its like being wrapped by clouds and get in touch with fanciful imageries.
Each image of space inside the nursery facility encouraged the children to move through one arch to another expanding their imagination, making them aware of the light streaks peeping in from ceiling windows and encouraging their natural exploratory urge – to find that special spot in the sun which is theirs alone!
The inclusion of translucent mobiles touching the ceilings that shine in the natural light are another touch of whimsy incorporated by the architect duo, which highlights the ceramic relief works placed in the spaces between ground reality and a world of imagination beyond sthe windows.
Delicate illustrations on the glass partitions positioned to motivate children about art also help them associate the stories told by their teachers with their surroundings while paper-leaves on the tree illustration furthers the power of surreal design.
Thus, with their unique interpretation of what an ideal nursery management should be like, the Archivision team managed to customise an educational institution that is a safe haven of sunshine, smiles and fairytale imagery for tiny tots.
Text By Deepanjolie Sonya Figg
Photographs Courtesy Kurumata Tamotsu & Noriko Momoi