Case Study 4

Children's Center for Psyciatric Rehabilitation

ARCHITECTS: Sou Fujimoto Architects
LOCATION: Hokkaido, Japan
SIZE: 17,270 sq. ft. (Total floor area: 27,300 sq. ft.)
INDUSTRY: Health, Children Psychiatric Rehabilitation

This is a treatment center for mentally challenged children that offers a communal living environment where they are able to start regaining their mental health. The center is a small village that offers a wide range of activities within a comfortable environment.

Fiujimoto thought of his center as a “building out of a dream”. He intended to design with “the method of being random: Precise planning vs Accidental landscape”. The architect planned his functions very precisely within something was merely scattered. By having his project contained in a series of boxes, he was able to adjust the complex program required by his client, moving his boxes delicately. The plan turned out to be quite flexible just because it was random.

As a result, although the space obeys a series of strict design directives, it appears as an random place, which is not planned at all. The place which is vague, unpredictable, ambiguous, and filled with surprises. This concept gives the children a sense of freedom, while respecting the rules that should apply to such a project.

Children's PsychiatricAn irregular alcove-place is produced between the randomly placed boxes. A small scale place where children can hide in while still connected to the living area. This space of no apparent function become a rich playground. The children adopt the place and create their activities around it. As the architect explains “They hide in a place behind something, show up, relax at back, and run about here and there. Plenty of the place for living is achieved.”

Sou Fujimoto stripped his project out of the austerity of institutional facilities. While offering a fully functional space for the staff to do their work, he built a place perceived as a playground by the children admitted in the center. He manipulated boxes while thing well outside the box. (ArchInnovations)

LESSONS LEARNED:
  • Village-like planning of residential and treatment buildings normalizes the environment for the center's residents.
  • Residents have a variety of activity options and locations, which encourages brain development and function.

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