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Title: (Re)thinking public school architecture as a pedagogical tool
Authors: Cen, Sarah
Keywords: Education architecture;public school buildings;childhood pedagogy;educational paradigms;third teacher;learningscapes;suburbs;elementary schools
Issue Date: 12-Apr-2021
Abstract: This thesis aims to rethink elementary public-school architecture by exploring its ability to become an influential aspect of the pedagogical process in schools. As educational paradigms have historically responded to social, political, and cultural conditions, it appears that the development of educational paradigms has moved faster than the educational buildings of the 21st century. Paradoxically, the spatial conditions of educational architecture seem to be stuck in the 19th century. Although there are notable school buildings that emerged from the 20th and 21st century that challenge a conventional school model, the existence of a gap between school architecture and pedagogical paradigms is predominant in the North American context. Beginning with an investigation of the current spatial conditions of educational architecture, specifically in North America, this thesis analyzes the relationship between school buildings and pedagogical paradigms that draw upon the history of education and its built institutions. As well, it examines the factors that prevent such correlation. Relevant building typologies were studied through orthographic drawings to create a visual comparison of school buildings from the 19th century to today. This allows us to observe the major spatial transformations that occurred between school models over time. Additionally, the analysis addresses how the social, economic, and political factors influence the relationship between the design of learning environments and the shift in educational paradigms, uncovering the principles of school designs and identifying clear discontinuities between the built forms and educational models. Undoubtedly, most of the contemporary educational buildings present in the North American context manifest spatial traditions that bear few relations to the current knowledge of the learning processes. Considering the significant role of the learning environment in the support of critical thinking, discovery, and creativity, this thesis explores this potential to overcome century-old traditions of learning through memorization and subservience to the authority of the teacher. We use the context of Markham, Ontario, in the Greater Toronto Area, to create an elementary school based on the principles seen in Montessori’s, Reggio Emilia Schools, and Lab Ecole projects, which respond to the basis of the most actual theories of children education. The designs we see today of newly constructed school buildings within the suburban context tend to be an afterthought, prioritizing budget, and fast construction rates with little to no consideration to how the built environment can aid in the learning process. As a result, the suburbs provide an ideal setting to explore how the physical environment can aid in the learning process. Ultimately, using architecture as a pedagogical tool that prompts the physical environment to inspire, stimulate, and encourage exploration and investigation of new ideas while supporting collaboration and the development of connections beyond the typical school environment.
Appears in Collections:Architecture - Master's Theses
Master's Theses

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