In the first half od 2018, I had a pleasure of doing an internship at Notre Damme de la Merci High-school in Montpellier. It was a program for architecture students to bring awareness about architecture to middle and high-schools. I opted for this internship due to my interest in education, as well as as form of a reflection for myself in relation to my master thesis project, which was focused on the maker movement in the new industrial revolution and notably learning spaces and systems.
The objective of this workshop, was to imagine an ideal class, to rethink the current classroom, school and education system in the light actual and future challenges. To arrive to that, I have organized a few presentations and brainstorms on subjects such as:
architectural design and concept
work, leisure and study typologies
new industrial revolution - new forms of working, educating and living
automation, new economies, ecological challenges
maker movement and democratized access to technologies
After the introductory parts the students were asked to create groups and to think about the properties of an ideal class in terms of its content, the flow of people and knowledge, its spatial properties and a forms.
For this part I have prepared a toolkit of basic content of a class in 1/50 scale produced on a laser cutter so the students can start to imagine an interior disposition and understand its proportions.
The students came with interesting ideas on levels of functionality and distribution of a space.
During the next class, we have switched from 2D perception of space into the 3D. I have created building blocks, again in 1/50 scale of basics shapes to create a 3D spatial elements such as walls, columns and of course, a set of "little people" so they can project themselves into the space.
This excercise was greatly beneficial to add a volume to they ideas. They have very much enjoyed this part due to its playful nature.
And finally, we have moved onto the final designs. I was hoping we could use digital fabrication in this part, but it was too difficult to organize the use of computers for vectorial design as well as trip to the fablab located in different part of the city.
Students then combined what they already had, and created the rest using cutter and cardboard, colors and other tools lying around in the fine art class.
It was an fascinating experience seeing how the students were able to grasps the concepts of architectural design, reflect on their own experiences and spatially represent their desires. Frankly, I was amazed how easy it came to them, often easier than to older students in architecture schools.
One thing that came obvious to me, is how students are often feel trapped by the current school system. Overly exposed with no place to hide. On a rat race from one class to another, tired of a stereotypical consumption of knowledge. They need space, the need pause space, they need hiding spaces, they need to look far in the distance, they need to occupy their hands. This gave me a strong incentive to continue work further on the subject.