This beautiful preschool in Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan is a light-filled space that rises from a sea of rice fields. Designed by UZU Architects, Otonoha School features a clean, bright design that seamlessly blends the outdoors and indoors while offering abundant spaces to play. The school is dedicated to music and agriculture and it offers a large open floor plan that easily transforms into small discrete environments thanks to a sophisticated movable wall system. Capped off with plenty of daylight and passive heating, the school is a perfect environment in which to learn about the environment.
The sizable 1,010 square-meter preschool grows from a grassy embankment which then transitions into a set of bleachers that lead to a raised outdoor patio. Along the roof is a series of generous skylights that traverse the facility. All of these design features are placed upon a single plane. The side of the building sports generous windows that welcome in daylight and allow direct access to the out of doors. Just beyond the playground are rice fields that have fed the community for many generations.
Inside, the large spaces can be converted into smaller rooms as needed thanks to a flexible floor plan. The second story sports a single room and a ceiling-tracked grid of movable walls and semi transparent screens that can transform it into twelve discrete spaces as needed to suit daily activities. The daylighting efforts ensure that each space has plenty of access to natural illumination, significantly reducing the project’s energy use.
Photos © Akiyoshi Fukuzawa