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Kumon School by Takashi Yonezawa, Kyoto, Japan

Yonezawa’s school design crafts an energetic narrative for learning in Kyoto, offering a new tone for educational design protocol in Japan

With an emphasis on self-learning, Kumon schools are private institutions found all over Japan. Their architecture does not conform to a standard Kumon type, but responds to context and individual programme. Set in Kyoto, where much of the historic cityscape is still preserved, this Kumon school is essentially a huge and steeply pitched roof wrapped in a dark skin of galvanised steel.

The building lies between an elevated main road and a quieter lane, and can be accessed from both thoroughfares at ground-floor and first-floor levels. The earth space of the ground floor anchors the soaring roof space and the void in-between is covered with glass panels, which can also be used as an activity table. The strong simple form has a civic prominence while also appealing to a child’s sense of fantasy: school re-envisaged as a tent, boat or moon rocket.

Architect Takashi Yonezawa

Photographs Satoshi Shigeta

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