Tezuka Architects: Fuji Kindergarten/Ring around a Tree / Andreas Fogarasi & Christian Teckert / MAK / 2013

Tezuka Architects: Fuji Kindergarten/Ring around a Tree / Andreas Fogarasi & Christian Teckert / MAK / 2013


Footnotes

The project consists of a wood and transparent glass volume spiraling upward, enveloping a Japanese Zelkova tree. This is not just any tree anywhere, but a Zelkova with a story and the true protagonist of this project. Planted more than 50 years ago, the Zelkova in the Fuji Kindergarten was hit by a typhoon and almost uprooted. The tree dried out completely but recovered despite general disbelief. Older residents of the area remember this Zelkova because it was the only tree to be used by children for climbing and games even before there was a kindergarten. And before the construction of "Ring Around a Tree," a small tree house had been built in the Zelkova. A "place-playmate" for several generations, as well as temporary shelter from rain and sun for children waiting to go home, in its latest adventure, the Zelkova becomes the natural subject—and living element—around which the Tezuka's design takes shape. ➡︎

In 2011, we built an annex to the school with two more classrooms and some playing areas. We called it ‘Ring around the Tree,’ because when the architect Peter Cook visited he said it reminded him of the song ‘Ring Around the Rosie.’ I thought the tree should be more important than the building, so I made the building as light as possible. In this school, children are encouraged to climb trees. If a kid is strong enough, they can reach the upper level without using the stairs. Other schools might not allow this, but the principal here believes children know their own limits. They stop when they have to stop. ➡︎

Tezuka also makes a fascinating claim – which is yet to be fully researched – that the lack of physical boundaries leads to fewer psychological divisions between the children, and thus stamps out bullying. “When you make a boundary around a group, they make a hierarchy,” he says. “But when you take that away, there is no bullying, because there is no hiding place.” ➡︎


Extras

▶︎ Takaharu Tezuka visits DETAIL on 24 January 2008


Sources

◼︎ Ring Around a Tree / Salvator-John A. Liotta / Domus / 2011

◼︎ Inside the world’s best kindergarten / Thu-Huong Ha / TED / 2015

◼︎ Kids and the city: how do you build the perfect space for children? / Libby Brooks / The Guardian / 2016


Lift / Shugo Tokumaru / Kazuo Umezz / Mirai Mizue / 2016

Lift / Shugo Tokumaru / Kazuo Umezz / Mirai Mizue / 2016

Learning World: Japan: The World's Best Kindergarten? / Euronews / 2015

Learning World: Japan: The World's Best Kindergarten? / Euronews / 2015