"How ought we challenge the traditional learning model and environment to create a network of 450 well-rounded, interpersonal learners?"
The Open Source Learning Network
How ought we challenge the traditional learning model and environment to create a network of 450 well-rounded, interpersonal learners?
The Interdisciplinary Learner
The Open Source Learning Academy learner is quite different from what we are used to. He learns not from top-down information dumps, but from hands on, interdisciplinary project-based assignments and interactions with his peers. In true open source fashion, he is not given a rigid path to follow. Rather, he is free to define his own education and learns in a manner that suites his needs and interests given the resources at hand, as an amoeba would seeking food in its environment.
Program and Circulation
Strong programmatic relationships are not necessarily created through immediate adjacency. Through an extensive network of swooping stairs along the facade and purposeful points of compression and release, circulation not only becomes an experience, but serves to reinforce implied connections between seemingly distant and unrelated clusters of program, thereby promoting access and interdisciplinary learning.
The Spatial Experience
Mass-Volume /Circulation/ Model
Over the course of the past ten weeks, my conception of education and how architecture ought to factor into it has changed drastically with my introduction to the concept of open source learning. Architecture, as it has become clear, should not merely be a container, but also a facilitator-a Third Teacher. Inherent in the concept of open source learning is the belief that everyone has their own way of learning-a particular approach that suits their needs and interests. When you consider open source in terms of computer programming or product design, you may see that the effectiveness of the network-its ability to facilitate the development and exchange of ideas- depends on the architecture of the platform. For the Open Source Learning Academy, it quite literally depends on the physical architecture of the environment. At the OSLA, the learning model can be summed up as one of interdisciplinary project-based learning. As such, I sought to address the issue of accessibility: physically, visually, and intellectually. In considering the nature of open source learning, I came to understand it as a sort of free exchange-a give and take of information-analogous to how an amoeba feeds in its environment. With that, I sought to manifest this kind of relationship in the physical environment, primarily as a means of physical, circulatory accessibility.
As far as the circulation of the building goes, it may seem arbitrary and round-about at times. There are, however, two primary drivers behind this system: the desire to create implied connections between apparently disparate and non-adjacent spaces and the desire to facilitate experience through circulation. Hand in hand with physical accessibility is visual accessibility. Between stories, it is facilitated by an extensive series of step-back mezzanines that promote inter-story architectural teases. Overall, the overwhelming glazing and gentle curve of the form promote visual access from virtually any point in the building to another. At the smaller scale, this visual accessibility is predominately manifested in the form of transparency into the learning environment from areas of circulation. With that, along with the explicit display of student work, individuals gain intellectual access into what their peers are doing.
In all, the learning model and architecture of this building essentially work together to create an environment in which students can choose their own paths and approaches to learning. Should this project move on next quarter, my hope is that this relationship continues to manifest itself through the three principles of access described above.