Green building: kindergarten circles around a mythic tree

This gorgeous new “Ring Around a Tree” addition to an existing building celebrates a Japanese Zelkova tree at the Fuji Kindergarten in Japan. Designed by Yui and Takaharu Tezuka, the glass and wood structure wraps around the 50 year old tree, creating a lovely interior garden and play space. The circular shape joins and complements the innovative oval-shaped kindergarten.

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The perimeter of the cylindrical building is lined with classrooms and waiting areas, so that children can daydream while looking out the window and gazing at the old tree. The tree itself has a storied and inspirational history — it was almost uprooted during a typhoon, then it dried out from the subsequent trauma. It miraculously recovered from the damage, and became a favorite tree for local children to climb, long before the school was built. It’s truly a mythical tree to build a kindergarten around!

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The tree remains a favorite climbing tree, and is now equipped with climbing ropes for the students to play on during recess and after school. Each floor gradually builds up on the spiral. In actuality, there are only two usable floors, but for children there are an additional four floors that are only one meter high- for inspired playing, exploring and crawling. The play areas are lined with soft rubber mats, to protect little bodies from rambunctious climbing.

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The building’s use of glass and open air ensures a sun-drenched interior that connects children to the outdoors while they study in the interior. The idyllic building seeks to inspire the imaginations of little minds while serving as a place to both learn and play.

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