During the 2015 school year, fourth-year students of the Ceip Praza de Barcelos primary school in Galicia (Spain) had the opportunity to take an introductory architecture course during school hours, thanks to the initiative of a local project called “Arquitectura Para Niños” or “Architecture for Children”.
Society today is under information overload, children need to learn to locate and filter it through and develop their own content, explains the initiative team led by Ana Barreiro, Marta Guirado and Africa Martinez.
The project's success is also due to students, teachers, and parents who have been very receptive to this innovative idea and are now struggling to extend the educational project. Through hands-on experience, children are able to observe and reflect on architectural content and learn about Natural Sciences, Geography, Mathematics, Art Education and English all at the same time.
The project was selected for the EducaBarrié scholarly program from 2014 to 2015 and it was with the support of the Barrié Foundation that this new model of education in the public school in Galicia was made possible.
The program was developed under a methodology of active learning where children learn through activities designed to explore specific content more deeply. Within seven units, children explore the characteristics of materials, make observations about space and discover the areas where they live.
Through guided play and learning through discovery, the children learn critical thinking and become more aware of their environment.
Session 1: Shelter. Animal and human behavior
Building a shelter: starting from a set of bars and nodes children work together in building a shelter to understand structural systems.
Session 2: Housing. Territorial and social factors.
Construction of a model: Each child builds a model of an imaginary house from a cardboard box using colored paper, markers, scissors and glue.
Session 3: Anthropometry. Measure and proportion
Staking a standard room, starting from a standard room plan drawn on graph paper, each child recreates a room at a 1:1 scale using colored tape.
Measurements of everyday objects: each child receives a tape measure to take measurements of the chair and desk that they use every day.
Planning out your room: each child draws the floor of his room on a grid of 30 x 30 cm. They need to place the major aspects of their bedroom (doors, windows, furniture) and record their dimensions.
Session 4: Scale and basic architectural vocabulary
The scale game: With different sized objects each child draws a stick figure person to demonstrate the appropriate size.
Architecture for kids: Each student writes an essay using some words from an assigned vocabulary list (at least 6 of the 30 words). It is a story with an architectural theme titled "My favorite house".
Session 5: Tools of the architect: Models and plans
Fieldwork: This time, the children go from plans to the real word because task is to identify objects on plans in reality and then correct the plans to include objects that didn’t appear on their sheets.
Session 6: Immediate surroundings. Observations
A group brainstorming session on an up to date model of the Plaza de Barcelos made at 1: 100 scale, where each student makes a list of advantages and disadvantages of the space [...] After this activity the students move on to a related exercise where, over the course of two weeks, they work individually on a new proposal for the space.
Session 7: Immediate surroundings. Action
All of the individual proposals made by students to transform the environment are collected, the most commonly repeated aspects are combined, attempting to solve the problems of the square and also those of the school, producing a final proposal made by different contributions of the children.
The students explain how their proposals have been integrated into a common project and a debate in expressing their views on the outcome, plus doubts and clarifications takes place.
Learn more about this project here.