So far in our OSL Lab we have agreed that the education system is broken, but the real question is how does it get fixed? But before we can fix it, or even begin to address it, we need to look at the specific reason that our education system is failing us. To me, the answer is that people aren’t being trained in fields that really engage their passions and education is seen as an activity that happens independent of interaction with your peers. Education is seen as a unpleasant means to a monetarily lucrative future, rather than an enjoyable transition from adolescence to adulthood as a member of a community.
So if the goal for education is a system that produces overall healthy communities, what do we need to change. Surely the answer is partly the change of mindset for all involved: the administrators, the facilitators of information, and especially the students. The culture needs to change from a place of stagnate repetition of tasks to active exploration for knowledge.
But then is the change in culture enough to fully realize the shift in education? The answer is no. There are too many obstacles for this type of learning in current facilities. Then what is the appropriate spatial design strategy for this type of learning? Well first how is the learning conducted? This is where i want to start.
The learning is conducted on multiple levels of interaction. First, the goal is to interact on a school wide level. The second level of interaction is within your own field of interest, and luckily, we have this designated already with the types of design (product, media, culinary, organizational). The next level is interaction with individuals in other interest groups, which will lead to both well rounded educations but also a stronger sense of community within the school overall. Finally there is the level of personal interaction between a small group of peers, whether this be in a formal educational context or just a friendly context. While these interactions vary in the ratio of individual to the group (from 1:450 to 1:150 to 1:20 all the way down to 1:1), the goal in all of them is create a sense of community, where the students can take ownership of their education and create an atmosphere of reciprocity.
This is where I fell short in my design strategy. Separate the program by specific function…check. Create a large central atrium…check. But after that it, it lacks depth. The main critique was that just because there is a large central space, it does not mean there will absolutely be interaction there. Which fits with my conception of there being multiple levels of community. While the large central atrium might be a good setting for 200-300 people, will it be good for a group of five that wants to meet and work on digital fabrication models, will it be good for people who want to brainstorm and bounce ideas literally off the walls? I don’t think so. And I was running into this issue already. Once I had delegated the central meeting space and the space for the interest groups, I was lost in the blending of the two and how to create spaces communal spaces between differing groups. And surely their are opportunities for this.
There will need to be spaces around the food, everybody has to eat. Maybe some spaces near the art. Spaces that are bright and open and inspiring, and spaces that are focused and encourage productivity. Spaces to display stationary built work, and spaces to actively preform something choreographed. But its also needs to be adaptable, because if there really in ownership by the users, and the users are as exploratory as possible, then there will be boundaries to push and there will be room to make the space there own.
From here, the goal will be to create a more layered approach to the interactive spaces. While it might still be important to have a central space for the school to gather, it also will be important to provide a variety of spaces and other scales all with separate atmospheres. And rather than make this organizational diagram in 2d and then apply it to multiple levels, really working on developing specific organizations per each floor while still maintaining a cohesive community feel to the entire school.