Open Source Learning Academy
Is it possible for an academy to find a balance between individual interest and a well rounded curriculum? How do we create spaces that specialize yet integrate into the holistic web of open source learning?
Pedagogy has seemingly always struggled to maintain both breadth and depth in curriculum. Though inherently a bit of an oxymoron, this conflict is alleviated by the introduction of various contemporary educational models. Specifically, Open Source Learning (OSL), our high school specializing in media, product, organizational, and culinary design, focuses on these specific interests while allowing the students to gain ‘common core knowledge’ through their own experiences. Such an academy requires not only traditional lecture based classrooms, but also newer types of spaces that are student oriented and project driven. Students must find depth of knowledge in their current project area, but also encouraged to remain curious about the other design areas. From review, some key design points became prioritized:
Grade Group Dissolution:
In a high school such as the Open Source Learning Academy, it would be detrimental to retain the traditional organization system that sorts students by grade, as this would detract from project based design curriculum. Instead, a more liberal model can by applied, where, similar to systems found at universities, students choose their design focus annually and works towards completing a ‘degree’. This will increase interaction of children of different age groups, experience, and academic interest, constantly exposing the students to new perspective. Spatial organization must be centralized around each of the design cores, thus these individual blocks of program are interconnected by a vertical ‘spine’.
- Core Design Subject Group:
As consolidation is a central idea, it is also important to identify the more individualized learning styles in each of these student bodies. Some student revel in a traditional lecture hall, while others may prefer an active studio. Although students should be exposed to a variety of teaching methods, it is also critical to offer each type of student a native learning environment where they can feel comfortable and excel. Thus, the design cores separate the quiet, group based classrooms in the interior from the more active lab environments located around the core. Large glazing facades are used on these exterior classrooms to increase visual connectivity to the rest of the school. This chain of academic spaces are connected by a network of exterior stairs and landings so that students may circulate or socialize in between learning.
It is important to create spaces for the students to inhabit: different types of space must cater to different social groups, individuals, and activities. The ‘interior’ courtyard, enclosed by the four design cores and the administration, serves as a social playground for the student body; the overhanging forms, largely protected to the elements, create corners of quietude; The (green space) landings interconnected by the flights of stairs allow for student to interact in their circulation.
I began by creating the cores of each design focus ‘cluster’. These function as the commons for the students in each block while providing necessary systems such as HVAC, plumbing, and vertical accessibility. Specialized spaces may also inhabit this core, such as a double height black box theatre. These cores are covered in a translucent skin to reduce glare and heat gain.
I proceeded to wrap labs and other spaces around the core, creating centralized ‘cluster’ blocks of similar proportions. These blocks are then connected, allowing the habitable outdoor spaces to create an undulating flow of social interaction.
Though the ‘adjacency rules’ assembly process that we learned from creating the game boards allowed my to create variation of space in the cluster, it did not present a formal ‘language’ that can be immediately read without referring to the process. For those of you who may be interested in continuing this project next quarter, be sure to develop a more obviously language to differentiate between academic, social, and interactive spaces. You may also examine and further develop alternate circulation paths between the clusters so to enhance interconnectivity between the clusters.