Childcare architecture often aims to emulate warm, homely environments for its precious little guests. In the case of a new kindergarten in Japan, things have gotten even more literal. The Clover House nursery used to be a two-storey house, nestled in a quiet residential street in the small town of Okazaki; now, it has been dynamically transformed into its current use by Chinese architecture firm MAD.

'I think it's important to create a homely atmosphere inside this kindergarten, so instead of building a brand new building, we decide to keep the old wooden structure as the memory and the soul of the space, and work around it,' says MAD founder Ma Yansong. Aiming to create a nurturing and inspiring environment for young‘uns, the house’s owners commissioned the architects to lead their dream project, redesigning their own home into a kindergarten.

Keeping costs to a minimum, MAD decided to recycle the building’s existing wooden structure – which was originally made in a standard prefabricated frame – and use it where possible in the new design. The result? A visible three-dimensional timber skeleton that outlines areas within, in a space that gently combines old and new.

The interior is playful and fresh, with light flooding in from several windows of different shapes and sizes, punctured into the façade. The house’s traditional pitched roof was also maintained, but everything was wrapped in a new skin, blurring the boundaries between what’s new and what pre-existed.

Adding an extra dollop of playfulness, the space comes complete with a slide leading from the second floor down to the outdoor play area and the building’s front courtyard.