layers of space and opportunity tailor to and form more autonomous learners
Continuing on from the research conducted in the winter and in Chicago, it’s understood that to create spaces in which students can exercise agency (see manifesto: the primary goal of learning environments), a layered system of structured environments is necessary – their confluence and intersections create unprecedented opportunities for creative expression.
This can first be seen in a site analysis, which sees a layering of man-made infrastructure and gridded surveying on an otherwise irregular natural topography. Architecturally, it means the already layered and blurred cloud must find a way to relate itself to the surrounding context, adding an additional layer, a plinth, that connects it, formally and physically, to the earth.
This plinth allows access for visitors on the ground to enter the cloud above, with various opportunities to slide up, along, or below the plinth.
Though seemingly irregular or arbitrary, the entire plinth is guided by the same structural pattern as the cloud; this pattern, in turn, is guided by a combination of the site and the interior – the topography and the city grids of nearby San Luis Obispo and Avila and the cohorts shaped by site lines and by each other.
This pattern is the foundation for the layered interior – a series of floor plates and walkways whose geometries play off of the structure and who strive to create a variety of perspectives, intimate and gathering spaces, and opportunities for school-wide interaction.
"...a variety of perspectives, intimate and gathering spaces, and opportunities for school-wide interaction."
Over the cloud is a final layer – the cohorts, which act as nodes, or touchpoints, strange but distinct structural features within the larger environment.
The cohorts are each specifically designed to optimize the learning experience for each type of learner, based on learning type. Within each cohort is a variety of spatial moves – subtle floor changes, large staircases, acoustic barriers, floor patterns – that gesture toward a variety of possible uses and a variety of possible learning experiences.