Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Physical Environment is the Curriculum

By: Hanan Rawashdeh
Any Architect needs to do research and investigate in all the aspects concerned with a project before beginning the design process. For instance, when an architect is asked to design a community center it is the architect’s job to do some background research on that community and understands its needs, goals and what they wish to accomplish from that facility.
  Research is a very fundamental step that an architect must do in order to produce a good design. The development of spaces and how we interact with them comes from understanding the real essence of what that space is suppose to serve, therefore when designing a school it is important to look into the fields of learning and understand the process of education.
  Since learning is a complex process there are numerous interpretations and methods of how it is effectively accomplished. It is important to define the methods of learning in the school design. Knowledge of a variety of such methods is critical to achieve an effective prescription for overcoming some of the causes of students’ academic stress. It also provides a foundation on which strategy to choose and when and where to employ it within the design. And through integration of these methods and design steps that are taken to implement them the design will then become flexible and can even accommodate future needs since a reliable prediction of future needs will then be formed. One of the various methods of learning are “behaviorism, cognitive and constructivism. The table below demonstrates the differences and what needs to be focused on when designing an educating facility that functions on that method:

Type of Learning Method
How does learning occur?

Which factors influence learning
What is the role of memory
How does transfer occur?
What is the relevance to instructional design?
Through frequency of observable performance
The learner-à reactive

Environmental conditions
No real role
Depends on habits
Transfer is a result of generalizationà
taking info and using it as a base for comparison relation and differentiation
Emphasis on producing observable and measureable outcomes
The focus is on the mental process of learning
The learner is viewed as an active participant
Environmental conditions + Learners thoughts / beliefs/ attitudes
Prominent role
When applying knowledge in different contexts
Emphasis on active involvement of the learner in the learning process
Creating meaning from experience (personal interpretations)
Both the learner and Environmental factors
Important through  interpreting info&understanding
Through facilitating thinking of the knowledge and performance 
Emphasis on learner in manipulating the knowledge obtained
Anne Taylor, author of “Linking Architecture and Education” explained in a concise table the role of Architecture and education in a brief table as shown in the attachment. It is important to know that when one understands the methods of learning the curriculum, as shown in Taylor’s table will become the design process. The traditional rectangular classroom with the teacher standing in front of students lecturing them dense information has been proven unsuccessful it is our role as architects to understand that and follow on this strategy of research before design in any other project to create more efficient spaces and come up with new and improved solutions for our daily needs.

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