Oculus - Fall 2012 - (Page 27)
The New Learning Landscape
BY U MBERTO DIN DO , FA IA
rchitecture can’t provide a good education but it can certainly facilitate it, an AIANY Committee on Architecture for Education member once said. One may even question whether education needs a building at all. Open-air teachings are common in places where the climate allows it; indeed, momentous lessons by Buddha and Jesus took place under a tree. The Indian government recently declared it would provide $10, twogigabyte laptops for schoolchildren, making for a perfectly good education – under a Banji tree. In our climate, however, we rely on buildings. School design has undergone a long evolution, starting with the one-room schoolhouse and progressing to today’s complex learning landscapes. The most significant change in school design was brought about by educators who declared that teachers are more like facilitators of the learning process. Teachers and students do better in an open and collaborative setting. New spatial concepts have replaced the traditional teachercentered, closed-door classrooms with studentoriented clusters, multipurpose corridors, and community spaces. Collaborative methods of learning have been around for centuries. They started in Switzerland with Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, who in 1780 became the first applied educational psychologist. Pestalozzi’s theories laid the groundwork for modern elementary education and led to the Kindergarten. He stressed the individuality of the child, learning by senses, and the necessity for teachers to be taught how to develop knowledge in the child rather than trying to implant it. His ideas found little sympathy, however. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that his theories were further advanced by Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori, Reggio Children, and others, who also maintained that school and classroom sizes matter greatly – the smaller, the better. Still, these methods were practiced mostly in private schools for the few and privileged. In 1923, Eduard Polak, the school superintendent of Amsterdam, introduced Montessori teaching methods and its functional and spatial concepts to that city’s public school system. This radically changed school design and has kept
The Netherlands in the forefront of progressive school design ever since. At the same time, some schools have also become community centers that provide social cohesiveness and identity. Ironically, the idea took off with the help of budget cutters, who discovered that it is cheaper to build one good school with shared community facilities than to build separate buildings. Such schools share their libraries, multipurpose gyms, auditoriums, and cafeterias – and some even include community health clinics. This partnership is mutually beneficial: the community gains access to improved amenities, and the school reinforces its identity as a multiuse community and education center. Budget cutters also welcomed clusters and corridor spaces that accommodate educational functions because they brought education and social interaction into circulation spaces with high space efficiency. Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger, a leading proponent of progressive educational design, has shown how school architecture can be a stimulus to learning. He divides classrooms into two types: the “basic classroom” and the “articulated classroom.” An unarticulated, rectangular classroom, he says, “lends itself best to instruction, the unidirectional transfer of knowledge that forms the basis of teacher-fronted lessons. This primitive paradigm gives teachers the ideal overview of their pupils. An articulated space, by contrast, provides more places for groups or individuals to engage in different activities simultaneously without being distracted by one other. There are several centers of attention, rather than just one.” The learning experience today embodies our entire environment, with the redefined classroom extending into multipurpose corridors, community spaces, and city streets. It’s a landscape that stimulates all of our senses and intellect – and encourages lifelong learning. Umberto Dindo, FAIA, is co-chair of the AIANY Committee on Architecture for Education together with Lazar Kesic, AIA, and serves as AIANY Secretary.
P.S 62 Richmond Net Zero school, Staten Island, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (pg. 30).
28 Oh, the Places We’ll Go! 30 One Firm, Two Schools of Thought 32 Schools Made to Order 34 Expanding Architecture Beyond Form and Function 36 New Kids on the Boards 39 Real Solutions at Harlem’s Edge
Fall 2012 Oculus
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2012
Letter from the President: The Future: Here and Now
Of Ladybugs and Learning
Manhattanville Shuffl e: A no-real-community-here might just become one
Opener: The New Learning Landscape
Oh, the Places We’ll Go!
One Firm, Two Schools of Thought
Schools Made to Order
Expanding Architecture Beyond Form and Function
New Kids on the Boards
Real Solutions at Harlem’s Edge
The Future of Architecture Since 1889
Aalto and America
The Mythic Modern: Architectural Expeditions into the Spirit of Place
Schlepping Through Ambivalence: Essays on an American Architectural Condition
The Harlem Edge | Cultivating Connections 2012 Biennial Ideas Competition
A pioneering example of Modernism in New York is the 1931 New School for Social Research building by Joseph Urban
The Young and the Edgeless
Alphabetical and Categorical Index
Oculus - Fall 2012
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