What is the first thing that comes to your mind when hearing the awkward mixture of “Architecture and kids”? Your mind would probably swing between two extremes: Either giving kids mega projects to design! Or Giving kids some pencils to draw a mere building! Well, No! In this article we will show you the magic that happens when kids learn Architecture.
To define architecture, one might say that it is the art and science of designing buildings. However, we know that this is not what architecture really is. Architecture provides a sense of place and support to all types of human activities. Architecture helps people to fit in harmony with their surrounding environment. It aims for the well-being of humans through improving conditions: environmental, social and sometimes also political. It is about creating spaces that inspire us, that help us do our jobs, that bring us together. Eventually, it becomes the work of art that we can move through. To sum up, Architecture is the life surrounding us.
To describe kids, one wouldn’t find a better quote than that of Jawaharlal Nehru: “Children are like buds in a garden and should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they are the future of the nation and the citizens of tomorrow”. We all care about our kids and love to see them flourish through learning new things and acquiring new skills. Kids learn mainly through play. Play helps young children to learn and develop through doing and talking. Research has shown play to be the means by which young children learn to think. Play is fun for your child and gives them an opportunity to experiment, solve problems and learn from their mistakes.
The fusion between architecture and kids
When architecture and kids blend, kids not only learn a new science but also learn about life. In mathematics, you can teach kids how to think, but there is always one correct answer. In sports, you can teach kids team spirit, but at the end, it’s a competition and it boils down to winning and losing. However, in architecture, there is no absolute answer or winner, which very much like real life. Architecture teaches this one thing to kids which is that there is no solution that is 100-percent right or wrong.
Moreover, when kids learn Architecture, they become aware of their surrounding environment. For instance, kids are introduced to the fact that they have hopes and needs, they have their own character and identity. Through Architecture, they learn how to implement these in a design of their own.
A case study in Spain: Architecture for Children Initiative
During the 2015 school year, fourth-year students of the Ceip Praza de Barcelos primary school in Spain had the opportunity to take an introductory architecture course during school hours. The course was held by the initiative of a local project called “Arquitectura Para Niños” or “Architecture for Children”.
The program works with the methodology of active learning. To clarify, children learn through activities designed to explore specific content more deeply. Through hands-on experience, children are able to observe and reflect on architectural content and learn about Natural Sciences, Geography, Mathematics, Art Education and English all at the same time. Some activities of the program include:
Some activities of the program include: Shelter, animal and human behavior
Building a shelter: starting from a set of bars and nodes children work together in building a shelter. As a result, children start to understand the process of construction and are subjected to variable structural systems.
Immediate surroundings and observations
This activity would be to model the Plaza de Barcelos made at 1: 100 scale, where each student makes a list of advantages and disadvantages of the space. Moreover, the activity continues to a related exercise where, over the course of two weeks, kids work individually on a new proposal for the space. Eventually, this activity would help kids to observe, criticize and develop their surrounding environment.
A case study in Egypt: Architecture and Children Program
Architecture and Children program in Egypt began in 2012 as part of the architecture committee, supreme council for culture, Ministry of culture, Egypt. Above all, it aims at communicating architecture to children and youth. Their mission is to offer a new thinking paradigm which is to pave the way ahead of children and youth for their roles as advocates of change, researchers, clients, expert consultants, creative inspirers, co-designers, builders and place makers. Therefore, the program offers modules in both theoretical and hands on experience methods targeting children and youth. It directly and indirectly teaches children all the fields of Architecture. For instance, these fields include: history of architecture, creativity, design, urbanism, sustainability and quality of life. The program is applied through lectures, workshops and camps to reach out to every child and teach them about Architecture. The House of Egyptian Architecture is home for all this.
Some workshops of the program include: Egyptian Houses Workshop
The House of Egyptian Architecture hosts this workshop. It included geographical of various Egyptian regions, a study on its nature, impact of environment and building technique. Eventually, this helps children to get acquainted with the history and culture of every region in Egypt. The children apply the information in drawing, painting and modeling different types of Egyptian houses found in different regions in Egypt. This allows children to learn more about their own environments, culture, tradition and their own unique identity.
Design Principles workshop
The aim of this workshop is to enlighten the children and give them the chance to create. To clarify, this is done through teaching them about the principles of design. It is where kids would implement their dreams in their designs. That is to say, this workshop would allow kids to set their creativity free, be critical thinkers and problem solvers. In addition, waking up their aspirations and dreams. It is housed under the supervision of the outstanding Enviro.Space.Community intiative.
When kids learn Architecture
To sum up, the objective of these activities is to show kids a full spectrum of architecture. Because as we know, the future quality of our environment will be determined by the children of today. Therefore, their ability to make sound decisions will depend on the knowledge and skills they gain in their education. This is when architecture steps in to provide exceptional skills. Certainly, when kids learn architecture they gain new skills, ranging from awareness of roles, rights and responsibilities to critical, analytical and problem-solving methods. From the capacity to work in a team, to observe, to identify problems and find creative solutions. In conclusion, architecture is a creative intellectual task of research and design that draws on humanity, culture, heritage, nature and society.