On Miyako-jima, a Japanese island 250 miles off of the coast of Taiwan, typhoons are a very real threat. The Hanazono Kindergarten was designed with weather in mind, incorporating features to keep children safe and comfortable through extreme weather conditions. Design studios Hibino Sekkei and sister firm Youji no Shiro, which specializes in architecture for kids, used local materials, such as concrete blocks with holes and red wall tiles, to protect children from the lashing rains and flying debris that often accompany typhoons.
The two-story building uses a framework is of steel-reinforced concrete to withstand the dramatic conditions of a typhoon. Hollow concrete blocks are stacked to form walls which screen courtyards and windows, allowing air to flow through and preserving views while protecting kids from sun and projectiles. Red ceramic tiles were used on the walls to echo the typical red tile roofs of the island.
The ground floor is a large open space that can be used for a variety of play and school activities, while a folding partition can enclose an art studio at the north end. Glass doors at each end of the large space allow activities to spill out onto an open lawn or a decked courtyard. When the doors are open, a cooling breeze blows through the space.
“Miyako-jima belongs to a subtropical oceanic climate,” said architect Taku Hibino. “The building is required to be closed for making shade, and also open for ventilation, because the hot and humid climate causes many typhoon attacks.”
Across the courtyard, the kitchen and dining room are easily accessible while being separated from the main space. The glass door of the dining room can also be opened to the fresh air and children can dine outside or in. The garden features an open playground and grotto, while other terraces and courtyards are more secluded. Upstairs, there are six rooms, some featuring lofts with wooden ladders, where children can stay overnight.
Images via Studio Bauhaus