50-Year-Old Kindergarten Gets A Makeover With Shipping Containers

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Projects & Spaces
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10.88 sq ft (Area)
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Shipping container houses aren’t only for art districts and pop-up shops, as the Ogura Asahi Kindergarten in Ibaraki, Japan shows. When the school was in urgent need of repair, directors chose shipping containers to restore the buildings. Safety, sustainability, and functionality were the main reasons behind the decision.


The Ogura Asahi kindergarten is over 50 years old. It was not big enough, nor earthquake resistant, before builders renovated it with shipping containers. The school had been in the community for decades, a legacy the neighborhood wanted to preserve. They were fortunate enough to work with Youji no Shiro and Hibinosekkei, a Japanese architecture firm that specializes in facilities for children. They’ve done over 350 projects and make some of the safest, greenest and most fun buildings in the world.

The top priority for the kindergarten was safety. The school would be in one of the world’s most active seismic zones. One advantage of shipping containers is their strength and durability. This feature has led to builders using them in similar situations around the world. The Ibaraki kindergarten is:



-Made of materials that pass Japan F4 Star International Environmental Standards.


The kindergarten wanted a schoolhouse that’s environmentally friendly. Modular construction eliminates up to 90% or construction waste, among other environmental benefits. Like many shipping container houses, the kindergarten is made from recycled containers.

A significant amount of construction pollution comes from long building times, which modular products cut. Design and paperwork for shipping container houses often take longer than the actual assembly. The kindergarten project launched in May 2015. Final plans were approved in mid-October. By February 1, builders had assembled the kindergarten and class was in session. Developers hired Chinese workers for the project because they were faster and cheaper than local labor.


Hibinosekkei and Youji No Shiro designs called for a series of stacked shipping containers. The buildings had to entice students to want to come learn every morning. The functionality of the architectural design, in this case, was tied to how fun it was.

Shipping container houses and buildings are eye-catching and exciting. Businesses use them for locations that are visible, memorable, and attract hype. But, it’s not just large chains and shopping centers that can benefit. The Ogura Asahi Kindergarten combines stunning interior design with modern methods of construction and landscaping. The restoration revitalized an old space into a bright, modern facility where children enjoy learning.

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