by R+VH architects (in training).
What is the role of an architect? An architect is one who plans, designs, and oversees the construction of buildings, but what is it that an architect really does? We must not only know about design and construction, but about psychology and sociology as well. So, that brings me to a more specific question. How does an architect design a space that can influence learning and education? The learning environment is not easy to design.
We have been asking these questions for the past 20 weeks in attempts to find the answers. We know that education in the US needs to be rethought, not only the concept of it, but the architecture of it as well. We have the opportunity to influence people through the design of spaces, and really provide a place where minds can grow. We need to design spaces that are structured, yet flexible to adapt to different learning types and situations. We used a connective axis through the center of the campus, as well as strong adjacencies to create a fostering environment.
Our design fosters curiosity and collaboration through various layers of working clusters, ranging from casual to private while weaving through the focus areas of the Open Source Learning Academy. Two main atria (the hearts) connect the spaces vertically, creating dynamic working areas that spark curiosity between the focus areas. Various exterior spaces support academia while connecting the students to nature and wellness.
Our intention was to house the four different focus groups, while providing interstitial spaces for a variety of learning environments, as well as provide a gradient of privacy.
The core of our design, in which the focus area surround, is the four-story Commons Atrium. It connects the spaces, and brings a bright, collaborative environment. It also acts as an axis, unifying the two buildings of the campus, extending an atrium space through the second building.
Very early on, the structure of our project became a driving factor. In the common areas, tall, branchlike structures bring a monumental feeling of support to large open areas.
Aligned Axonometric: 4 Stories of Primary Structure Grids, Glazing System, Exposed Structural Elements, and Overview with Geometry Set-Out. As you can see here below, the exposed structure (in orange) houses the commons/study areas of the campus (in blue), giving them open bigness. In this process, the circulation became a driving force in designing the spaces and adjacencies.