Kids will be kids. And being kids, one of the things they are inevitably going to do is play in rain puddles. No matter how they might be scolded later, the sheer joy of splish-splashing through some nice big puddles exerts an irresistible magnetic force on little feet.

Rather than trying to reign in that youthful inclination, one preschool in Japan is embracing it through a central courtyard designed to collect water when it rains.

The Daiichi Yochien in Kumamoto City is the work of Japanese architecture firm Hibino Sekkei and their Youji no Shiro (Infant’s Castle) brand, which specializes in architecture and design for early childhood education.


The two-story building is designed around the concept of a highly flexible and open space connected to the outdoors. The glass-like wall partitions can be opened up and moved around to create the optimal environment for different types of lessons.



The most fun to be had is in the concave central courtyard, though. It’s topped by a retractable roof that can be opened to let in natural sunlight or to allow rainwater to pool, providing the kids a safe place to splash about.


In the winter, the area can be flooded and allowed to freeze for an impromptu skate rink. Or if the weather is snowy, they can let the snow accumulate inside for a fun day of snowball fights and snowmen making. With the roof closed, the space can also be used as in indoor sports area. There’s almost no limit to how the area could be used.

The architect says, “By providing a space with multiple uses and a high degree of freedom, we are providing multiple playgrounds to stimulate children’s creativity.”




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Looks like fun to me! I wonder if I’m too old to enroll…

H/T: Spoon and Tamago
Images: Studio Bauhaus Ryuji Inoue, used with permission