Teaching the kids architecture

The built environment is a great platform for bringing together knowledge from different areas and combining them to understand a relevant, complex part of our everyday. Teaching architecture in schools will raise citizens who understand it as a discipline and in relation to politics and economics, and who know more about public space and ways of contributing to a better city. Student projects have great potential in involving their parents, local communities or governments and peers, and reach many people outside the school. Urban planning is reformed as a more participatory process all over the world making spatial education of all citizens essential. Teaching about the built environment at schools is in many countries slow to catch on. We need a good collection of engaging and educational architecture topics and activities, available in many languages, that make noticing architecture, wondering about architecture, creating architecture fun, challenging and rewarding.

Reason #4 why to teach kids about architecture: Hands on! Building something yourself is a good experience of creating real change in the real world. A ping-pong table changes the way a space is used.

Reason #3 why to teach kids about architecture: Interdisciplinarity. Architecture offers real-life examples of various fields of knowledge coming together. Building a hut is a lot about knowing trees.

Reason #2 why to teach kids about architecture: Inevitability. We can’t get out of space, we’re always in a space. Understanding planar representations of space allows more substantial participation in planning processes.

Reason #2b why to teach kids about architecture: The current moment. As of 2005, more than a half of the world’s population lives in the city. A play city is a good basis for discussion about what makes a city a home.

Reason #1 why to teach kids about architecture: To be a good person. Architecture is a good way of learning how and why to be considerate of others. It might start with trying to think like a chimp.


Source: http://futurearchitectureplatform.org/projects/cef990fb-408a-4343-8cb1-b7dfb5b04d2f/

Teaching the kids architecture

The Knowledge Box

Often we wonder how technology advancement can influence the way we learn.

Especially in an era where we are living in, knowledge comes with more compact form, and a space of knowledge may not required much of space, for instance, , when we have any inquiry, we find answers on internet, in a sense, internet has become our school, which it only needs our digital devices to access it. How schools can keep up the the fast- changing knowledge trend?

In 1962, an experimental artist Ken Issac constructed a knowledge box, a simple and compact, immersive environment contained by a cube of wood, masonite and steel . It was equipped with twenty-four slide projectors and audio-suppliers. This installation act as a pre-internet device to transmit narratives in a non-linear way, it attempt to create an immersive and interactive learning experience.

Here is an quote from the experiment:

“As the imagination of many men creates a fantastic new world, the danger is that individual man may soon find himself lost in it. He may be expert in his own special field — microbiology, perhaps — but otherwise remains an ignoramus. New teaching techniques and devices are therefore much required in order to cram as much knowledge as possible, as fast as possible, into his swimming brain.

Out of the imagination of one specialist, 32-year-old designer Ken Isaacs of the Illinois Institute of Technology, has come a machine called a “knowledge box” that he hopes will help fill this need. Isaacs, peering from inside his weird cellular contrivance, believes that the traditional classroom environment is as ill-suited for learning as a ball park. Inside the knowledge box, alone and quiet, the student would see a rapid procession of thoughts and ideas projected on walls, ceilings and floor in a panoply of pictures, words and light patterns, leaving the mid to conclude for itself. It is a machine of visual impact that could depict, for example, a history of the Civil War in a single session, or just as easily give a waiting astronaut a lesson in celestial navigation.@

(From a Life Magazine article “The Knowledge Box”. September 14, 1962 )

As seen in the images below, his experiment imagined his projection of the future, the era where we are currently living in, where technology is more accessible compared to the 60’s. This put forward two questions: with the virtual technology, can space for learning be minimized?  And if so, to what degree of control, ‘passive learning’ or active interaction the environment can offer as a learning environment?





Further Read

The Knowledge Box by Ken Isaacs (1962):

The Knowledge Box by Ken Isaacs (1962)

Enter the Matrix: An Interview with Ken Isaacs by Susan Snodgrass

The ‘Knowledge Box’: Picture an Early, Trippy, Analog, 3-D Wikipedia. By Ben Cosgrove

The Knowledge Box

Can education be sold?

Relationship between commercialization and education is always controversial.  Here is an article about the nature of education and how it is different from consumption of luxury or other products.

Important quote from the article:

“treating students as consumers means encouraging them to see education as something to be consumed–not created” – Education included the involvement of students in the learning process, but not simply about consumption.

Education and commercialization is not simply a problem about ethic issue or any kind of business model, but it is a philosophical issue, which is about the intrinsic value of teaching and learning.


Can education be sold?

Dissolving Architecture Schools

Stumbling upon this post, this is a sort of manifesto a couple of students created in the Sheffield University Architecture Society. Sam Brown , Alastair Parvin, Tatjana Schneider.

The authors much like our studio engaged in debatable topics in the education system,

In their points, what is most similar to our manifesto is this idea of our personalized education, they also note that Architecture is social justice and NOT art….So there are different theories and ideologies attached to architecture and this article provokes some of the most common struggles we as student architects face today.

“. . . actively encourage and promote those students with the bravery to change their mind. A good architecture school should help students do this,even if it´s bad for the bottom – line . Isn´t that the ultimate purpose of education?”

This statement exemplifies what the core of education is about, educating those who do not know, often times schools undermine that not students are to become starkitects. There has to be an atmosphere of encouragement rather than pulling down the weak.

Please read the following points as a reminder of how we can challenge the existing culture towards architecture schools.

Architecture Schools should be dissolved unless. . .
. . . . abandon mono – vocationalism
After the collapse of the construction bubble , architecture schools must prepare their graduates to apply design thinking and architectural intelligence in sectors beyond just the property / construction sector.

. . . . promote informed generalism
Invite as much knowledge as possible from other disciplines , such as economics , engineering , agriculture , politics , activism , geography , psychology , sociology , computing . . . Architecture is an amalgam of all these things.

. . . . encourage students who want to openly debate what is happening.
Escapism is amoral at best, immoral at worst ..

. . . . realize that the game has changed.
Graduates must now leave with more than just a portfolio of beautifully drawn imaginary buildings , designed to take to interviews at Architecture firms.

. . . . change the measures of success.

No more prizes for drawing trout farms on mars . There is more than one way to measure success.

. . . . take responsibility.
Architecture is not art . Art is Art .Design affects more than cultural discourse, and is more that social “engagement”. Architecture is always connected to social justice.

. . . . .teach an expanded view of architecture and design
“No longer associated only with objects appearances , design is increasingly understood as the human ability to plan and produce desired outcomes”- Bruce Mau

. . . . let each student shape their own education.
The purpose of education is to find the work that fascinates and fulfill you , and help you turn it into your life´s work . Schools ought to enable, respond and even structure its curriculum around student initiatives, and provide on -request tutorials on learning skills such as coding or business planning.

. . . . no longer assume their graduates will be employees.
From now on, the successful schools will be those whose graduates are just as likely to use their thesis projects to start an enterprise /initiative as they are to use it to seek employment from an existing company. Schools must help them prepare for this.

. . . . act as incubators for designs , architects and ideas they produce.
Supporting people and projects after they have graduated.

. . . . become fablabs and drop-in institutions.
Provide intellectual forums and workshop facilities for would – be designers, inventors and activists who wish to attend the school for 7 minutes , 7 hours , 7 weeks or 7 months – not just those who wish to attend for 7 years.

. . . . .open theirs students for positive change in their host cities.
Why do those who live next door to architecture schools never set foot inside them ?

. . . see their role as producing not just each new generation of graduates.
but also each new generation of ideas.

. . . . become open clubs ( peer to peer social networks) for their students and alumni.
A school is not really a building; its a network of people . It should open doors for you and your ideas.

. . . . seek to provide access to role models of all genders , races and backgrounds.
Architecture is still very male , white and middle – class , both in education and in practice . It´s not your fault if you are one (or all) of those things , but imagine all the great designers your´re not meeting and working with because of it. Imagine how much emptier design discourse is because they´re not here.

. . . . champion drop outs.
. . . actively encourage and promote those students with the bravery to change their mind. A good architecture school should help students do this,even if it´s bad for the bottom – line . Isn´t that the ultimate purpose of education?

. . . . nurture open sense of purpose.
“Architecture is peripheral to the most important social aims. I wish it was less peripheral.That´s why I´m an architect “ -Cedric Price

. . . . no longer see themselves as schools of architecture ,
but as ____________?


Sam Brown , Alastair Parvin, Tatjana Schneider , April 25,2016 Retrieved at, http://designplaygrounds.com/tv/architecture-schools-should-be-dissolved/

Dissolving Architecture Schools