Numata Elementary School / Atelier BNK

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Numata Elementary School / Atelier BNK
© Fumiaki Sato

This small school has just one class in each grade. Numata lies in a region of heavy snowfall, and because it is closed in by snow for the majority of the year, the aim of this project was to create a school that provides a compact yet diverse space focused on indoor activities for children.

Numata Elementary School / Atelier BNK
© Fumiaki Sato

Excluding the south-facing, two-story classroom area, the entire building was designed as a one-story structure integrating a gymnasium and school building into a rectangular plan. The regular classrooms, a”Field of Light,” a library/PC space, and a gymnasium zone were arranged linearly in the north-south direction, creating a consecutive, deep configuration.

Numata Elementary School / Atelier BNK
© Koji Sakai

The height and shape of the roof above these spaces was varied to give the building a distinct character, and the gymnasium was treated as a large classroom.

The focus of the children’s space is “Field of Light,” which is an atrium space with a skylight installed on the north side. Here, a sequence of slats reflects the natural light from skylight and guides it inside the building.

Numata Elementary School / Atelier BNK
© Koji Sakai

Soft, natural light pours in and is reflected from the angled walls, creating a gentle, serene space for the children. Japanese white birch produced in numata itself was used for the flooring, and Japanese oak for the furniture and staircases. The main staircase in the “Field of Light” is wide enough for children to sit with their friends.

Numata Elementary School / Atelier BNK
© Fumiaki Sato

Concrete block with an ingenious joint width specification were used below the deep eaves that run around the periphery of the building to prevent overhanging snow. Lightweight Galvalume steel sheets were used on the pitches roof, the incline of which was varied to accumulate or shed snow. These materials together create a new town landscape.

Project Details:
Location: Numata, Japan
Area: 4,185.09 sqm
Architects: Atelier BNK
Design Principal: Makoto Kato
Design Team: Mitsutoshi Ikehata, Nana Ikemura
Photographs: Koji Sakai – Fumiaki Sato

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