MAD Architects, The Chinese Experts in Kids Design and Architecture ⇒ Founded by Chinese architect Ma Yansong in 2004, MAD Architects is a global architecture firm committed to developing futuristic, organic, technologically advanced designs that embody a contemporary interpretation of the Eastern affinity for nature. With its core design philosophy of Shanshui City – a vision for the city of the future based on the spiritual and emotional needs of residents – MAD endeavours to create a balance between humanity, the city, and the environment. And the Clover House is the perfect example of that.
Located in the small town of Okazaki, the school’s setting boasts views of the paddy fields and mountains, characteristic of the Aichi Prefecture. The kindergarten was originally operated out of the old family home of siblings Kentaro and Tamaki Nara, which soon became too small and unfit for expanding their educational goals. The siblings desired to create a modern educational institution where children could feel as comfortable as they do in their own homes, allowing them to grow and learn in a nurturing setting.
“I think it’s important to create a homely atmosphere inside this kindergarten, so instead of building a brand new building, we decide to keep the old wooden structure as the memory and the soul of the space and work around it,” stated Ma Yansong, founder of MAD Architects.
The new house’s skin and structure wrap the old wooden structure like a piece of cloth covering the building’s skeleton, creating a blurry space between the new and the old. The starting point of The Clover House is the signature pitched roof. This repurposed element creates dynamic interior spaces and recalls the owners’ memories of the building as their home. The form of the house brings to mind a magical cave or a pop-up fort. Compared to the original assembly-line residence, the new three-dimensional wooden structure presents a much more organic and dynamic form to host the kindergarten. The facade and roof utilize common soft roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, to provide waterproofing, while wrapping up the whole structure in a sheath of paper-like pieces.
Adding to the sense of playfulness, there is a slide that descends from the second floor of the building to an outdoor play area and an open courtyard in front of the building.
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