Architecture in the Schools
In 2012, I volunteered with 5 other designers to partner with the Washington Architectural Foundation's Architecture in the Schools program to bring architecture to a class of seventh graders at a local middle school. A program that lasted eight weeks, we led classes on master planning, architectural history, sustainability, branding and communication, and concepts and modeling. As a final project, students were broken into teams and tasked with creating a building of their own design which combined to create a town. The class chose to create a moon colony, stretching the limits of their 18"x18" city limits skywards.
Week 1: Introduction to Architecture
Week 2: Community and City Planning
- Why is it important to create a plan for a city?
- Show city plans from history- grid systems/organic systems around the world
- Activity: Students are city planners for the day. Their challenge is to plan an ideal city. They have to locate 20 buildings around the city, and then draw roads to connect them.
Week 3: Architectural History/Styles/Materials
- Introduce students to the origin of Architecture
- Discuss how architecture evolved over time and how architectural styles have been established
- Introduce the use of materials in architecture and how these materials determine how a building will look, be constructed, and its durability
- Activity: The students have to collect different rubbings of materials found around the classroom and document them in their sketchbooks.
Week 4: Concept Design and Prototyping
- Introduce the importance of creating models to express ideas
- Discuss the different technologies we use (3D printer, laser cutters, and robotic arms)
- Activity: Each student creates a 3D spaceship from paper cut-outs
Week 5: Sustainability
- Introduce students to Sustainability, and the differences between renewable and finite natural resources
- Discuss the relationship between Sustainability and Architecture, and the importance of conserving natural resources
- Activity: The students will break up in to groups and each group will be responsible for inhabiting their own planet. Each planet poses its own extreme environmental conditions and it's their task to decide how they'll solve these shortcomings and use them to their advantage.
Week 6: Identity & Branding
- Introduce the meaning of graphic communication and branding, and its role in the built environment
- Discuss our favorite logos, why we like them, their meanings and associations
- Activity: Students will create their own logo or monogram based on their names or initials. They're encouraged to use images and typography traced from magazines or other sources, or found objects.
Week 7: Work on the final project
- Further each student’s vision of the new space colony, by working through the design process
- Discuss how their models will reflect community and how it will work with the other elements in the community
- Activity: Each student will design their piece of the new space colony beginning with planning and sketching, then move into modeling and construction. Students will be given a space base to which their space building will be constrained to. Each base will be plugged into a greater community plan at the completion of the project.