HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji No Shiro take inspiration from nearby forests to design this nursery in Atsugi, Japan. The architects, who specialize in the design and construction of children’s facilities, conceived the project as a ’small forest laboratory in a building’. Eight nature-inspired elements converge inside the second floor space to create a place where young kids can play and explore.
Firstly, the architects have incorporated a number of ‘trail steps’ into the interior, allowing children to take some exercise even inside a limited floor area. Secondly, various plant species are potted inside the steps to bring greenery inside the nursery. Children can notice small changes in the plants during each season.
The ‘cave atelier’ is a room within a room surrounded by low walls so kids can concentrate on drawing without the gaze of adults. The inside wall is a blackboard where children can draw with chalk or play with magnets. Next to the atelier, HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji No Shiro positioned a bookshelf dubbed the ‘explorer library’. The bookshelf contains an aquarium and some insect cages. Next to them, there are picture books and encyclopedia volumes about animals, so kids can learn about the creatures while looking at them; their interests connect to learning.
There is a ‘secret path’ with a shelf of toys next to the explorer library. This space faces east and enjoys the warm morning sunlight. Next to this area, there is a long planter so little ones can touch the soil and help cultivate vegetables and plants.
When climbing up to the highest step, there is a counter from which to enjoy a view of the city. Children can take picture books from the bookshelf behind the counter and read here, have lunch here, or watch trains and people outside. The toilet space is surrounded by mirrored walls to create the ‘mirror pond’. The kids can also use these walls to draw or to create creative plays.
The height of the kitchen counter is sized for youngsters so they can prepare their lunch by themselves, stimulating their interest in food. Over this counter, they can also communicate with the chefs more easily. From these elements, HIBINOSEKKEI + Youji No Shiro aims to create a place where children can play, learn, and grow up healthy and with a rich mindset.