Tezuka Architects' Fuji Kindergarten Wins 2017 Moriyama Prize
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.
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.
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.