In recent years, the social environment surrounding children and childcare has changed drastically, and the number of children who need mental healthcare due to developmental disorders, child abuse among other factors has been rapidly increasing throughout the country.
In Yamanashi Prefecture as well, there was a need to reinforce the consultation system and increase the number of facilities as soon as possible.
This project was launched to establish new facilities including the Children's Psychological Treatment Facility and the Special Support School in addition to enhancing mental healthcare services that have been provided by the Chuo Children's Welfare Center and the Comprehensive Support Center for Mental Development and to create the first comprehensive center for children's mental healthcare in Japan that integrates these four facilities.
In planning the project, our team spent several days as staff members at one of the existing facilities.
By spending time with children of different ages with various problems, we were able to experience firsthand what kind of life these children without appropriate parental care lead and what kind of place they need.
We felt that our mission as architects and builders is to create a heartwarming place where children who do not have places of their own in their homes feel safe.
The site is located in a residential area lined with low-rise houses, with a view of beautiful Yamanashi mountains in the distance.
In order to create a safe place for the children living here and their families visiting here for consultation, we aimed to create a space where the interior and nature outside are seamlessly connected by keeping the building height low and bringing it closer to the ground.
By dividing children's living quarters and special classrooms into separate wings, we were able to build these buildings designated as Special Buildings under the Building Standards out of wood.
Wooden structures are exposed in classrooms and walkways to school where children can come into close contact with, and the concrete work is formed with cedar formwork assembled using tongue-and-groove joint method so that the uneven wood texture is imprinted into the concrete. Materials that will warmly embrace the children were carefully selected and traces of the builders’ work in the building framework, exterior walls, interior finishes among others were preserved.
Places where children can spend their free time on the way to school or after school, including a green space with fruit-bearing trees, water feature where children can touch and play with water falling from a rain gutter and others are provided throughout the site with the aim of nurturing children. The goal of this project was to create various places where children can be alone and a place where they can gather together to enrich and nurture their minds.
We aimed to create an environment where the staff at each facility can communicate closely with each other and consistently monitor the growth of children.
Since children at each facility have different characteristics, including abused children, children with emotional disabilities who need to stay in the facility for a long period of time, children with developmental disabilities who visit the facility for treatment and consultation among others, it was necessary to plan in such a way that children do not mix with each other. Special classrooms including the music room, home economics room, library, arts and crafts room respectively accommodated in single-story wooden structures are scattered in the courtyard. They are planned to be shared among the four facilities by designating time of use and installing adjustable partitioning systems.
A: Chuo Children's Welfare Center
B: Comprehensive Support Center for Mental Development
C: Children's Mental Health Treatment Facility
D: Special Needs School