An elegant open-plan school beneath a sawtooth roof has been built in a Japanese village to designs by Richard Rogers Partnership

“Students and teachers spend a large part of each day in school, so the building is designed to resemble a large house,” says Ben Warner, head of Rogers’ Tokyo office. A simple post-and-beam structure planned around an 8 m2 grid offers a range of flexible spaces. As in a traditional Japanese house, internal partitions can be slid back, enabling pairs of classrooms to be combined.

The school is sited on the brow of a hill with views over the Minami-Yamashiro village below. A high level of daylighting is provided by the sawtooth roof and glazed walls. The neighbouring pavilion contains a swimming pool and gymnasium.

The Minami-Yamashiro Elementary School was built on a relatively low budget using straightforward, durable, low-maintenance materials, including fairface reinforced concrete and stainless steel roofing.