OKAZAKI – In Japan, set alongside rice fields typical of the Aichi Prefecture, is the Clover House Kindergarten. MAD Architects, from Beijing in China, has made its first foray into the Japanese architectural scene. The firm, founded in 2004 by Chinese architect Ma Yansong, is dedicated to architecture that is futuristic, organic and technologically advanced.
In Okazaki, the architect stays true to the company’s philosophy, creating a white complex form that appears as a skin drooping over the existing structure. The owners of the original house decided that the building was too small for the kindergarten and approached MAD to design a building that not only provided more space but also created a stimulating play environment – a place for the owners to remember their previous residence and a place that could stay in the memories of the children when they left.
Retaining the timber structure in the form of the existing house leaves a ghost of the previous and allows an increase in volume around it. The firm believes the building that has been realised is from a child’s point of view, with a layout that allows for intimate and diverse spaces. The boundary between playground and building is met with MAD’s design for the Clover Kindergarten. Children move freely between multiple levels and double-height volumes – as well as interior and exterior – via ladders, stairs and a slide. Interaction is promoted through spatial organisation and so is drawing. The white asphalt shingles, covering the whole building, makes for a vivid symbol intended to stay with the children as they grow older.