MAD Architects Transforms Home into Whimsical, Cave-like Kindergarten
The Clover House marks the firm’s first-ever project in Japan.
Ma Yansong may be known for creating hallucinatory architectural forms—from a mountain-inspired residential complex to a horseshoe-shaped hotel—but now the architect has put a kid-friendly spin on his approach. Today, Ma and his international firm, MAD Architects, unveiled the design for Clover House, a kindergarten in Okazaki, Japan—the firm’s first in that country.
“We wanted to create a playful piece of architecture that would stay in the memory of the kids when they have grown up,” Ma said in a release.
Ma and his team were approached by the sibling co-founders of the Clover International School, Kentaro and Tamaki Nara, to design a roomy and homey new space for the facility, which was originally housed in the pair’s family home. Rather than build an entirely new structure, the firm opted to reuse the existing pitched-roof timber frame, placing it inside of the new school. “We decided to keep the old wooden structure as the memory and the soul of the space,” said Ma.
MAD enlarged the original 1,100 square-foot-structure to 1,400 square feet by placing a new igloo-like shell over the expanded building. Inside, glazed walls create airy, light-filled learning spaces, while allowing adults to keep an eye on children. The team also incorporated playful details such as porthole windows, a cave-like entrance, and a slide running from the building’s second floor to a playground below. The building’s bright white skin, clad in asphalt shingles, appears to be draped over the timber skeleton as if it were a blanket fort.
“We have designed the building from a child’s point of view, and the layout focuses on creating intimate and diverse spaces,” Ma explained