Meeting Societal Needs: Kitakami Health & Childcare Support Complex

Institutional / 1st Quarter 2024

Meeting Societal Needs: Kitakami Health & Childcare Support Complex

March 20, 2024

It has been reported that the birth rate in Japan is the lowest it has ever recorded, continuing a steadily decreasing trend over at least two decades.

This is a confluence of many factors—decreasing marriages, increasing social security costs and delayed post-pandemic economic recovery are amongst them. Data from 2021 indicates that there are under seven births per 1,000 people annually in Japan;1 moreover, in 2022 the number of deaths nationwide was recorded as twice the number of births.2 This indicates a critically aging society where fewer productive-age people will be able to support welfare systems for dependents in the years to come.

In response to the population challenges, the Japanese government has long been introducing measures that are pro-natalist in nature: tax breaks, parental leaves and increased budgets for childcare agencies. At the infrastructural level, this translates to the improvement of facilities for childrearing like maternity hospitals/clinics, schools and daycare.

Kitakami City is one such place where the government has been providing childcare support for the municipality. According to a 2020 census, the city population has remained relatively unchanged over a five-year period.3 

In line with supporting more young/growing families, the city converted two floors of a commercial building in the city centre into a health and childcare support complex. This is strategically located near an elementary school and municipal office, so that the target users could access it easily.

“The challenge was not only to develop a building for people involved in health and childcare, but also to create an open space that would be equally accessible to other residents of the city and to provide a meeting place,” said the architects. The design was a result of numerous workshops with Kitakami residents, hence reflecting their aspirations.


Project Name
Kitakami Health & Childcare Support Complex

Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture, Japan

Completion Date
March 2021

Site Area
3,884 square metres

Gross Floor Area
3,947 square metres (renovated area); 14,216 square metres (total floor area)

Kitakami City

Architecture Firm
UtA/UNEMORI teco Associates

Principal Architects
Hiroyuki Unemori; Chie Konno

Main Contractor
Joint venture of Hazama Ando Corporation and Obara Construction

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
ZO consulting engineers

Civil & Structural Engineer
Design Office MOMI

Kai Nakamura

Read more stories from FuturArc 1Q 2024: Health/Wellness!




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