Spotlight TEDx Talk: How one architect builds magical spaces for kindergarten students

A child at Fuji Kindergarten climbs a classroom tree (Photo: Tekuza Architects)

A child at Fuji Kindergarten climbs a tree in the building’s annex (Photo: Tekuza Architects)

In Tachikawa, Japan, there exists a sweeping oval building, constructed around a mélange of 80-foot-high zelkova trees. The building’s roof is low, wide, lined with boards and dotted with skylights — a whimsical, floating walkway; the trees are shrouded in netting and children bounce from branches to netting and back. This is Fuji Kindergarten, designed by TEDxKyoto speaker Takaharu Tezuka.

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Fuji Kindergarten from above (Photo: Katsuhisa Kida)

In a talk at the event, the architect explains how the kindergarten was designed to complement the students’ natural curiosity, energy, rambunctiousness and desire to explore their surroundings. Tezuka aimed to create a space where children would be encouraged to be curious — to run, make noise, climb, jump, wander — a safe space to engage with the natural and built world at once.

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Students explore at Fuji Kindergarten (Photo: Tezuka Architects )

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Students explore at Fuji Kindergarten (Photo: Katsuhisa Kida)

Tezuka and his team have brought their unique vision to all of the building’s elements, including the annex, which consists of seven levels of classrooms around a giant, decades-old Zelkova tree.

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Students explore the building’s annex (Photo: Tekuza Architects)

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Students explore the building’s annex (Photo: Tekuza Architects)

“I think architecture is capable of changing this world,” he says in his talk, “and this is one attempt to change the world of children.”

Below, watch the entire talk for more insight into this magical creation:

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