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The story leading up to the completion of the display corner in the Sakai Elementary School library, woven through the exchange with Noelani Elementary School.


The purpose of this project


Sakai Elementary School has an exchange with Noelani Elementary School in Hawaii. The purpose of this project was to create an environment where children can get excited and enjoy reading, by displaying exhibits and picture books from Noelani Elementary School. The attached photo is a corner of the existing library at Noelani Elementary School. As friends from around the world, a Sakai Elementary corner has been set up. However, looking at this, the external environment is also very appealing and enviable. Also, their school emblem has a playful and fun design. Seeing this, we feel compelled to respond in kind and step up our game. This really motivated us.


The inspiration behind the idea


Children seem to love cozy spaces. In fact, adults might feel the same way. I believe that a certain level of compactness can heighten excitement and anticipation. When visiting libraries or bookstores in our daily lives, I thought that having such a corner might elevate the children’s enthusiasm even more. With that thought in mind, I poured my heart into this project.

こちらは大阪にある「こども本の森 中の島」、安藤忠雄氏の作品です。奥に進むにつれて天井が低くなり、自然とその方向へ誘導される設計となっています。実は、この場所を訪れた時、すでに図書室の工事は始まっていました。しかし、この体験を通じて改めて実感しました。天井が低い空間は、確かにワクワク感を持たせるものがあると。

This is ‘Kodomo Hon no Mori Nakanoshima’ located in Osaka, a work by Tadao Ando. As you move deeper into the space, the ceiling gets lower, naturally guiding visitors in that direction. In fact, when I visited this place, construction of the library had already begun. However, through this experience, I was reminded once again. Spaces with low ceilings indeed evoke a sense of excitement.


Bringing an idea to life


Inspired by various influences, I visualized them into concrete forms using perspective drawings. Being conscious of the Hawaiian theme, I decided to avoid the distinctive Japanese monochrome design and chose vibrant colors from the outset. In particular, I incorporated shades of purple and a green close to fluorescent. In terms of design, instead of being confined to traditional boundaries or merely using the Sakai Elementary’s emblem, I opted to incorporate the Sakai town’s mascot character ‘Sakaitachi’. I aimed for a design that evokes the sea and dug out data of ‘Sakaitachi’ in various poses from 6-7 years ago. I figured that the worst-case scenario would be being told it’s not good enough, so I boldly incorporated a variety of elements.


What was the reaction?


The reaction was surprisingly positive. As I had proceeded with a free-spirited approach, I was very pleased about that aspect. At the same time, I felt the need to reproduce the image from the perspective drawings as faithfully as possible in reality. If the finished product on-site differed greatly from the perspective, the hard-earned approval would be rendered meaningless. With such considerations in mind, the construction began.


Time to kick off the construction!


The photo above shows the situation before construction. We plan to install it in the center of the wall at the farthest end, fitting it in place.


We originally planned to cut out a large portion in the center, but an unexpected situation arose. We intended to utilize the veneer on the back, but upon touching it, we found its surface to be uneven and bumpy. Thinking ‘This is a problem,’ we consulted with the contractor. As a result, we deemed this veneer inappropriate for use as a base and decided to remove it. We were required to neatly cut out just this portion. The veneer that had been used was old and easily breakable. In renovations and remodels, unforeseen issues often arise.


The raw surface of the concrete was exposed on the wall. After removing the veneer, we had to decide how to proceed next. Ultimately, and with apologies to the contractor, we decided to have it painted with white paint. The rugged texture of the old concrete was, in fact, very appealing, and we really liked its character. As the construction of the hut progressed, it felt bigger than what was illustrated in the blueprints. Correspondingly, it had considerable weight, and the carpenters struggled with its installation. Witnessing such on-site challenges firsthand is an invaluable experience for a designer.


In reality, the completion deadline for this construction was extremely tight. We had to finish just one week after demolition began. As a result, painting work progressed almost simultaneously. When it came to choosing colors, it was a choice between purple and green. After seeking opinions from several children, green was chosen. Given that the character from Noelani Elementary, “Yamori,” was green, I personally felt that green was more appropriate. I searched extensively to select a paint color close to the hue of Yamori. We opted for a slightly more expensive paint. We judged that its quality was necessary to achieve the desired ambiance, and it was given priority even in terms of cost. I recommend any paint from this series, as it lends a stylish touch to any space.


The carpenters meticulously crafted the complex shape of the bookshelf for us. When checking the green color next to it, it felt somewhat lighter compared to the perspective drawing, so we had them apply an additional coat. With just one layer of paint, the base color sometimes showed through, making it look white. During this period, the production of the cutting sheet and cushions was also underway simultaneously. Numerous tasks were being carried out at the same time, making it a hectic period, but we managed to successfully complete each item.




床の人工芝についても奇麗に丸くカットされていました。ここだけ特別空間になっているでしょうか。 ここからは、細部の調整作業が主となります。このように本が並べられると、一気に現実感が増します。子供たちが喜んでくれるだろうかと、その視点で様子を眺めました。



















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