The concept of “Open Source Learning” was new to me coming into this studio. One of the challenges of designing an OSL center is the term’s flexibility and openness to interpretation. My take on the concept was creating spaces through architecture that would encourage interaction, collaboration, and foster students’ sense of curiosity and exploration rather than squelching it like typical schools often do.
As a starting point, I thought back to my own high school experiences and tried to take that knowledge and apply it to a future school. One challenge was taking issues with the learning system and making it a spatial problem; such as teacher’s attempts to close off their classrooms from the outside world rather than exposing the rest of the school to the knowledge shared and work produced in their class. One solution to this is providing varying types of “classrooms” that would provide more visual connections and flexibility than the typical rows of chairs facing a single teacher model. In addition, by providing numerous outdoor areas and gathering spaces teachers have the opportunity to leave the classroom and get students moving, interacting, and learning rather than just watching or memorizing.
To get the form of the building I started with an “alphabet scheme”, with a C shape that angled in on itself to create a large courtyard in the center of the building. I angled the wings 15 degrees off of the north-south axis to allow for more views to the west up and down the coast. I extended the geometries to create a raised walkway and presentation space, in addition to creating a break between the two center courtyards.
After our typology studies, I moved from designing though model to drawings, especially plans. I tried to create a logical layout of spaces with circulation in mind. However I know from here the plans could be developed significantly more to achieve my goal of encouraging curiosity and exploration. Right now I have most of the programs as boxes just to show where the size of that space could go, but from here those spaces should be designed more thoroughly. I think moving towards designing in section would help me create more interesting spaces and ways of moving through the building, rather than straight “corridors” which they may appear to look like now.
One of my favorite parts about designing is being able to put people in your building and show the atmosphere of your spaces. Through these renders I discovered how big the exterior courtyard was and how opaque and daunting the “wellness” wall appeared in the main atrium. By breaking up those spaces and thinking about how people would actually use them and react to certain elements I can design for more pointed experiences. I haven’t thought too much about the exterior “form” of my building but from playing around in rhino I was able to experiment with multilevel outdoor courtyards and pathways and thinking about the role of the presentation space/walkway connecting the two wings.
My section could definitely use more development. From this I need to focus more on vertical relationships and how those spaces can interact with each other more and be more dynamic.
The reviews from LPA on Monday and Clare/Beller on Wednesday were both helpful in pinpointing what I need to focus on looking forward. I know one critique was taking a step back and really thinking about my “main idea” or concept that is driving this project. I know that this is something that I have always struggled with in design; I have a concept in the beginning and kind of just make changes and decisions and then try and rationalize them and bring them back to my original ideas at the end. I think truly digging deep into what I believe an OSL school should look like and what that term means to me would help me create a stronger foundation for my future designs. In addition, I know one element that I struggled with its role in my project was the addition of the presentation/gallery/circulation space that connects the two wings. I feel like it has a lot of potential but just needs to be developed further. Rethinking the layout of my programming would be a good start to determine the best solution for that idea. Ideally the space would be as awesome as High Tech High’s hallways filled with student work, energy, and collaboration. Researching projects where these ideas have been successful such as LPA’s Newbort Beach project (shown below), Dexter Lawn, and High Tech High will give me a better direction to move towards successful design the rest of the quarter.