Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Responsive Educational Design

By Anthony Michael

This week’s case study is Crow Island School: A Responsive Approach to Design.  This particular case study shows how listening to educators about how they teach and how this effects the design of the building.
Unlike many contemporary designs of the of the progressive school design era, the Crow Island school has embraced the concepts promoted by the educational reformers and incorporates their understandings into the design.  They believe that a school should be a place that students develop formal skills in writing, reading, arithmetic, history, geography, and science; as well as informal skills such as physical emotional, social skills, and creative skills.  In response to these ideologies Eliel and Eero Saarinin designed a space that was responsive to learners and mediates learners as they acquire knowledge. 
An active physical environment that supports progressive ideals for learning is a main component in the teaching areas.  They environment is designed to give learners a choice on how they want to learn, and through these interactions they acquire knowledge.  This design is formed around the concept that the school should fit the students.  This belief is carried out through fixed and mobile architectural features that include child-scaled furniture; lowered door handle and blackboard heights, and the size of the benches that are under the windows, self-contained classrooms, flexible spaces, and easy access to the outdoors from each classroom.  This proximity to the outdoors is made possible through glass-paneled transom doors that open up into a private courtyard.  This glazing permits ample amounts of natural light to enter not just the spaces but into the corridors as well.  It also provides an opportunity for ventilation and color variations to occur, keeping with the flexible design strategy.
This is a responsive approach to school design that factors in many different ideologies to create a comprehensive school design that many design criteria for the future can be pulled from.
Lippman, P. (2010). Case Studies: Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools, Urban Schools, Specialized Schools, Private Schools, and Community Schools. In Evidence-based design of elementary and secondary schools (pp. 82-84). Hoboken, N.J.: J. Wiley.Responsive Educational Design

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