A Biophilic Kindergarten

Elly Deakin Biophilic design, Community, Education, Healthy spaces

the Fuji Kindergarten by Tezuka Architects

2007

Following the previous blog, we can see that Biophilic design within educational settings can have a positive impact on the health and well-being of both students and teachers. Whilst on the hunt for Biophilic educational spaces, we came across this inspiring case study that uses many human-centred design principles, which help to strengthen the user’s connection with nature.  These are important to learn from as they can be transferred into other educational building design – at a vast scale, or simply through decor – helping to create environments that have psychological, physiological and also, economical benefits.

ACCESS TO NATURE

The vast circular kindergarten designed by Tezuka architects provides an endless circulation of space for students to run around and explore the outdoors throughout the day. Access to the roof allows the children to play amongst the surrounding trees – strengthening their innate connection with nature. Research has shown fresh air and exercise can help to boost mood, behaviour and productivity, therefore good access to nature in an educational building is beneficial for student’s learning and performance levels.

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SENSE OF PROSPECT

The ceilings of the building have been designed at a minimum height, allowing staff members to keep an eye on their students whilst they play upon the flat timber-clad roof. This architectural feature also allows the students to sit along the inner edge of the circular building and view events taking place in the playground below. These interesting vistas between the different levels of the building create a strong sense of prospect and boosts excitement for teachers as well as the students.

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NATURAL LIGHT

Instead of cutting down the existing trees, Tezuka architects have let the trees slice through the building at various points, allowing natural light to flood and disperse through the interior. During the majority of the year, the classroom’s sliding glass doors are opened up to the inner playground so that boundaries are broken between the indoor and outdoor spaces. Exposure to natural light is a key Biophilic design principle that energises us, which as a result, benefits our mood, concentration and overall performance levels.

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COLLABORATION

Many of the classrooms have been integrated, creating a continuous circulation of space with no acoustic barriers. You might think that this would produce a noisy and disruptive environment, however, the architects stated that children can feel nervous when they inhabit quiet spaces. In fact, children thrive in noisier environments because it makes them feel more comfortable – the teachers at the kindergarten had recognised a vast improvement in symptoms of children with autism. Finally, the open-plan quality of the space creates a working environment that promotes collaboration, which teaches children fundamental social skills needed in life.

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We will be posting other example of fantastic Biophilic spaces, which demonstrate how Biophilic design principles can be implemented into our built environment, in order to create happier and healthier spaces.

All photos by Tezuka Architects

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