When it rains, children usually aren't allowed to go outside and gleefully jump in the puddles. At the new Dai-ichi Yochien preschool in Kumamoto City, Japan, however, rain is an integral part of the building's design. The courtyard of the school collects water so that after a downpour, there is a giant puddle that's just waiting for eager children to play in it.
Dai-ichi Yochien was designed by architecture firm Hibino Sekkei, and the ingenious courtyard is intended to do more than just collect rain water. On dry days, it can turn into a badminton or softball court. In the winter, it could even become a small ice skating rink. What a whimsical way to bring the outdoors inside!
Overall, the school has an open floor plan intended to foster learning in a flexible and unconstrained environment. Furniture acts as partitions for the space, and teachers are encouraged to mix up their classes. They also have a somewhat unconventional practice and ask students to purchase their own desk and chair. The kids keep it throughout their time at the school and eventually take it with them as they graduate. This keeps the decor fresh and, like their learning, continually growing and changing.