Minami Yamashiro is a remote village in the Kyoto Prefecture nestling in the mountainous region south of Kyoto. Recognising a growing decline in rural population, the mayor was anxious to reverse this trend by initiating a project that would reunite and regenerate the local community - a school with an extended role as a community centre. The result is a building that has restored a sense of identity and civic pride.
The 6,200 square metre school has been conceived as 'a big house', offering not only day-time schooling but evening classes and life-long learning for the community's adult population. The heart of the school is a large common hall that mediates between the outdoor playing fields and two levels of flexible classroom spaces arranged within a repetitive framed grid. This multi level top-lit space is similarly organised within the expressed structural grid and contains all circulation and classroom breakout spaces.
Specific spaces for art, science and music classes are grouped at the lower level. A sequence of modular north lights bring light deep into the heart of the building. Bright wall colours within the grid frame are coded for children and adults, defining different areas and functions.
Detailed and implemented by RRP's Tokyo office, this project uses simple, durable, low maintenance materials to achieve elegant results. The building has a strength of its own, yet can be read within the classic Japanese constructional tradition which has long inspired modern architects.