Minami Yamashiro Elementary School celebrates its 20th anniversary

13 February 2023

The wonderful Minami Yamashiro Elementary School in Kyoto Prefecture celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. This is a project that brings back many fond memories for the RSHP team. We are therefore honoured that the school’s principal, pupils, teachers, and the local Mayor, recently gathered to mark the special occasion with a tree planting ceremony.

Designed by Ivan Harbour together with our teams in London and Tokyo, the school was commissioned by the mayor of Minami Yamashiro to reunite and regenerate the local community; he desired a school that also acted as a community centre. The result is a building that offers much more than daytime education for children, but also offers evening classes and life-long learning for the community’s adult population.

Located on a steep wooded hillside, the project is arranged as two buildings, one stepping down from the other, characterised by elegant undulating roofs consisting of a row of north-facing skylights, which are designed to bring indirect sunlight into the interior spaces. The wall colours express circulation and the ‘character’ of various internal spaces, defining different areas and functions.

The heart of the school is a large hall that mediates between the outdoor playing fields and two levels of flexible classroom spaces arranged around a flexible framed grid. Specific spaces for art, science and music classes are grouped at the lower level. An adjacent gymnasium building with a swimming pool frames the approach to the school.

Detailed and implemented by RSHP’s office in Tokyo, this project uses durable, low-maintenance materials to achieve an elegant and timeless building.