Tezuka Architects' Fuji Kindergarten Wins 2017 Moriyama Prize

20. September 2017
Photo: Katsuhisa Kida (All photographs courtesy of RAIC Moriyama Prize)
Tezuka Architects’ Fuji Kindergarten was announced as the winner of the 2017 Moriyama RAIC International Prize on Tuesday evening during an awards ceremony and gala at the historic Carlu in Toronto.
Tezuka Architects, run by Takaharu Tezuka and Yui Tezuka, is the second winner of the Moriyama RAIC International Prize, which was created in 2014 by RAIC Gold Medal recipient Raymond Moriyama. The inaugural winner of the prize was the Liyuan Library near Beijing, designed by Li Xiaodong; with the Fuji Kindergarten, both prizes have coincidentally been given to educational buildings in Asia. Tezuka's school building beat out the three other finalists that were announced in May 2017: a large residential building in Denmark, a university building in Australia, and an educational campus in Canada.

An interesting aspect of this year's winner is the fact it was completed ten years ago, in 2007. With so many prizes awarding buildings completed within the last one or two years, it's odd – yet refreshing – to see a prize opening itself to contemporary buildings that have been around a bit longer. Built around three existing Japanese zelkova trees, the one-story, oval-shaped school uses its roof as a playground that can accommodate more than 600 children. Accommodating the school's Montessori method, the classrooms are fairly open, with furniture used for partitions rather than fixed walls.
Photo: Katsuhisa Kida
Raymond Moriyama, who called the four finalists "special," described the eponymous prize in a statement:

This is a prize that will continue to acknowledge the important work of transformative architecture worldwide and its designers. No matter the scale or size of the building, the prize provides an opportunity to recognize design qualities which make a positive contribution. Society is evolving, we hope, toward more equality and social justice. Architects can provide leadership by creating inspiring buildings in service to a community.

Photo: Katsuhisa Kida
In reference to the 2017 winner, jury chair Barry Johns said:

What perhaps sets the Fuji Kindergarten apart is the sheer joy that is palpable in this architecture. It is one of those rare buildings—comprised of a geometric plan, a single section, a roof, and a tree—that in their utter simplicity and unfettered logic magically transcend the normal experience of learning. This winning project should give all architects around the world reason for great optimism that humanity benefits enormously from the creation of such a deeply simple and yet sophisticated architecture of unquestionable redeeming value.

Takaharu Tezuka receiving the 2017 Moriyama RAIC International Prize
Tezuka's Fuji Kindergarten was selected by the seven-member jury following site visits to each of the finalist projects. In addition to a sculpture designed by Canadian designer Wei Yew, Tezuka Architects receives a CAD $100,000 award.

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