Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Case Studies for Education-Based Thesis

By Phil Mevert

Fuji Kindergarten in Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan is an excellent example of an interactive and free learning environment designed by Tezuka Architects. With the site for the school being in a highly populated and crowded area, building mass space was limited especially for playing area. The solution to solve the limited playing area was to create an oval shaped building and provide roof access to use as extra playing surface.
The building has slides that go from the second level to the ground level for the children to use and play on. There is also an elevator to access the roof playing surface. There are a limited number of non-glazing walls in the building which allow daylight into the building as well as to provide views for the children to see outside when they are unable to be outside. There are now walls that separate individual classrooms which allow the children to move around freely inside the building. The lack of interior walls could become an issue with sound transfer from room to room, especially if one room is trying to have a quiet session. Three trees penetrate the building through the roof to allow for shading on the roof play area. The classrooms all have sliding glass that opens to the courtyard and they remain open as often as the weather will allow.

With all of the openness to the building it could be difficult to control the children from wandering when they shouldn’t be. The use of natural and soft material can be less intimidating for the children while attending school and relax them, making learning easier.  This school is a prime example of learning from experimenting and taking a hands on approach.
When Students from Samuel Brighouse Elementary School in Richmond, British Columbia were asked what they would like to see their new elementary school to look like and to have surprisingly some were savvy enough to think to requesting things such as natural ventilation, courtyard gardens, photo-sensitive lighting, solar panels, recycling stations and more natural daylight.[1] The Architecture firm of Perkins+Will was selected as the designers of the new 500 student Elementary school with the goal of creating a Healthy Learning Environment.  The design of the school is mostly a one story building with a 2nd story over half of the main corridor. Even though the first floor has class rooms on both sides of the corridor, it still function somewhat like a single loaded corridor with the Kindergarten classrooms having their own entrance and exits from directly outside each classroom.

With the second story being only on one side along with being open above the lower corridor it allows for natural daylight to light up both the first and second story corridors. This also allows for every classroom to be facing an exterior space to allow natural daylight into the rooms.

The use of warm and cool colors mixed throughout the building and classrooms mixed with the natural and soft building materials provide a more relaxed comfortable feeling and an environment more fit for learning. The attention to acoustics to minimize noise throughout the classrooms and building is an excellent way to help with concentration in the classrooms. All of these factors can help to improve the overall building health as well as those who occupy it.  The location of the Gymnasium in relation to the rest of the building does not really seem right since it is entirely disconnected from academia, it feels as though it would be a hassle to go to the gym for recess with having to go outside in a cooler climate.  The lack of non-hard surface outdoor play area for direct access for the kindergarten rooms seems a bit concerning for allow the children to run around. The overall thought that went into the design of this school has shed new light on the way schools should be considering in all new construction projects to provide the best possible learning environment.

[1] Drew, Robert. “Creating Healthy Indoor Learning Environments.” Journal of Commerce. journalofcommerce.com June 2010.

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