Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Space: How much do we need to learn and live

by Ed Latham

Stumbled on the following video this morning.

This got me thinking about the spaces we educate in and how wasteful so many of our buildings are. It is almost as if architects don't "get it" or can't offer it without breaking the public bank. Most new schools start with a plot of land and people figure out how to best fill that land up with facilities that convey messages. What message do you get when you go into your school? Look around you next time you enter a school. Look at the outside, as you enter look around you, and as you sit in a classroom share with us how you feel. Do you feel as if you are a part of nature or in fact a part of anything? Our institutional designs may claim "most efficient", "most ergonomic" and many other feel good titles, but they fall so far short. Consider the gentleman in the video. With just 300 sq feet (1/2 a classroom) he has built in every convenience he needs to live comfortably. A traditional classroom needs some place for the teacher to lecture from, a surface to write on or display images, and seating (often the oh so comfortable standard student special). I have seen some teachers go to great lengths to try to make these institutional boxes into more human friendly places and their efforts are super! There must be some great creative ways teachers and students can transform their class spaces into more efficient and comfortable spaces. Our society is touted as being one of the creative centers of the world, so there has to be some great ideas out there. If anyone has transformed their rooms into energy efficient, comfortable, and welcoming learning environments can you share pictures, descriptions of the transformation and what struggles were encountered along the way. Hopefully by sharing possibilities of space, as shown in the video, we call all be inspired to think out side the box to make our classroom boxes better places to spend a huge chunk of our first 18 years of life.