Beijing-based MAD Architects has completed work on the new Clover House kindergarten, the firm’s first project in Japan. The project deconstructs an existing catalog home, peeling away everything except its structure in order to expand the building’s footprint.

Located in the Aichi Prefecture of central Japan, the school is operated by a pair of brothers who wanted to establish a facility that could be as comfortable as a home. MAD Architects principal Ma Yansong cites this impetus as the project’s driving force, explaining in a press release, “It was important to create a kindergarten that felt like a home, and give the kids the best possible house to grow up in, one that promotes their learning and creativity.”

The new bulbous, faceted structure billows around the preserved structural frame, which is now an informal space divider. One corner of the new house swoops down as it meets a new catenary-arched entrance while a second-floor slide descends onto an expansive playground.

The interior spaces of the school weave through and climb over the remains of the existing home, with staircases bringing classrooms and play spaces onto what would have been the roof of the existing building. As with MAD Architects’ recent Xinhee Design Center in Beijing, China, the designers were inspired by the analogous relationship between bones and flesh that the existing beams and new covering reproduce: The roughly-hewn beams of the existing house play against the smooth blonde wood and gypsum articulation of the new interior spaces. The new skin, soft with plaster, is punched through by geometrically-shaped windows flood that flood the interior with light. Outside, the monolithic exterior is clad in white vernacular asphalt shingles.

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