Little Architect supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

 

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Great News!! We have been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant. 

Little Architect has been awarded a grant to run two community projects out of London and one in the borough of Islington!

The activity is called “Your Future Local Area”, it encourages children to create new, futuristic urban environments and to pay attention to the amazing world around them, discovering hidden treasures in their local heritage and unknown stories in their community. This project triggers a new relationship within our heritage from the past, our contemporary architecture and its local surroundings, encouraging children to care for but also to be critical of the cities we all inhabit. This project allows them to express their ideas and desires for the future of their local area after learning and researching by themselves about the past and the present.160511-EcoleJM-Louise-Vincent030

 

Image: School bus ( cable car) from Bedford Square gardens to the rooftops.

How? We teach that our heritage is part of the urban environment evolution. It is important for us to convey to children that the city is a constantly changing place,and so as citizens of the city, they are able to change it for the better. Children feel empowered to participate in improving the present and build together an inspiring future: “Dynamic heritage” During our lessons children act as teachers, researchers, architects, artists and also politicians working in teams and deciding and expressing through different media what they want for the future of their local area.

 

IMG_3534Active learning: We have developed a timeline-based methodology where we teach about the past, the present and the future of the local area incorporating walks, sketching journeys, buildings´ visits, research time and also providing games, cartoons, movies and books relating to children’s popular culture. We design learning packs ordering images in such a way that children note numerous things which had changed in the built environment and in society. We present several examples of contemporary and utopian buildings and introduce children to the importance of walkable areas, urban ecosystems, extensions, and second opportunities to buildings through rehabilitation. Incorporating the future in our lessons we are developing a pro-active attitude towards children´s community.

This project aims to:

1- Empowering children to become active members of their society.

2- Highlight the relevance of heritage and the local history behind buildings.

3- Getting to know in depth the local area.

4- Fostering long lasting skills such as observation and creative thinking . 4- Encouraging discussions, critical thinking and teamwork 5- Fostering drawing as a communication tool.

5- Creating children´s own legacy for the community.

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An update about our work!

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Little Architect  from Sep 2014- July 2016 

What really matters is your feeback…We are looking forward to teaching in your school!

Thank you for an inspiring workshop that challenged children’s conceptions of conventional building designs and dared children to imagine beyond boundaries of what their futures could look like. The children were empowered to feel that their sustainable designs and ideas mattered” Lily Pang, Year 4 teacher. Rathfern School.Lewisham

The children were very motivated to draw their future local area buildings, and one boy who is usually off task got really stuck in, even bringing in another building he had drawn at home to show me!The children enjoyed looking at the photographs of buildings, as did I. It definitely enhanced our understanding” Sophie Klimt, Year 2 teacher.Christopher Hatton Pr School, Camden.

“During the two sessions the children were able to discuss and comment on photographs promoting a greener and ‘happier’ London. They were motivated by images of existing buildings and space and had the chance to make their own skyline crowns depicting their version of a happy place. It was a great project which had strong curricular links to Geography topics and the children developed a good understanding of how to produce a more eco friendly London. They were incredibly proud of their crowns and shared them with another class also” Katie Stuart, Year 1 Teacher, St Joseph RC Primary school. Westminster,

 

DSC05661Schools &Children: (These figures show what we´ve done and what we have in our agenda until July)

Number of lessons: 78 

Number of children (counting the kids repeating lessons): 2144

Number of primary schools and other different venues: 26

Number of workshops out of London: 4

Number of boroughs in London: 9 (Camden, Islington, Westminster, Hackney, East Ham, Wandsworth, Clapham, Lewisham, Fulham, Surrey (Red Hill))

Followers on Twitter: 3,538

Followers on Facebook: 2,081

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You are not alone!

IMG_0336This post is really short, I just wanted to share a funny moment with you all. L

At the closing of a recent Little Architect session( June 2015), I said to the class: “Remember, you are in charge of the future. It is YOU, who can improve our cites”. Immediately after I said this, one girl covered, her face with her hands let out a huge sigh and said “Oh No!” Clearly, she was absolutely overwhelmed with the responsibility. This is precisely, what we want to set straight, whatever the future holds, as long as we are responsible citizens, we will manage it together! I told her, and the rest of the class Don’t worry, you are not alone, the whole class, myself and lots of other children will work together with you.”

St.Clements Danes School, Covent Garden. London. Year 5 lesson.

Tutors: Sylvie Taher & Dolores Victoria Ruiz

 

UGLY? INACCURATE? ORDINARY?

Little ArctF uture 01020_croppedToo often, when we talk to friends about drawing skills, our insecurities are revealed: “I don´t know how to draw”, “My drawings are rubbish”, “I am not good at art”.

What drives us to think so badly of our ability to draw? I am pretty sure that it starts at the beginning of our learning process. The way in which we were guided towards a “more beautiful and correct” way of representation, has led many of us thinking, too early, that we can´t draw.

Drawing is a communication tool, so it is time we start paying attention to this matter.

Parents, teachers and educators in general, face children´s drawings nearly each day. We tend to correct or to give advice to our children rather than to observe and recognize individual style. It is vital that we avoid judgment and negative evaluation, especially during the early years, and rather push our children to explore. Children should be encouraged to express whatever reality they see and understand, and to do that through whatever medium they can express themselves best.

As adults, we have a tendency to approach children´s drawings through established rules that we were taught as children. We tend to follow the traditional canons of beauty.

Picasso used to say that we are wrong in our understanding of beauty: “Academic training in beauty is a sham. We have been deceived, but so well deceived that we can scarcely get back even a shadow of the truth…Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon”

 

So, who is right, who is wrong? How can we understand the artistic side of a child when we analyze with such predispositions?

DSCN1177We must forget as soon as possible the drawing teacher inside us and let the creativity flows!

Often we unconsciously make suggestions about the drawings that our children produce; the colors, the lack of proportions; the unrealistic details. Further to this, our commentaries can relate directly to the subjective beauty of the thing; “this drawing is ugly” or “this drawing is not so beautiful as yesterday´s one”. Such sentences are enormously dangerous for the creative development of a child.

Where we see ourselves improving our students and children skills, we are actually generating the harmful idea of failure.

As Sir Peter Cook says I´m more interested in ideas and originality than I´m interested in something that is beautiful”.

Let´s allow children to freely explore and enjoy while drawing!

littlearchitect-web1Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido. June. 2014. London

1 Christian Zervos. “Picasso Speaks: A Statement by the artist” 1935, p 273.

2 Architecture and Beauty. Yael Reisner, p72

Look at that, it is so beautiful!

Do we spend time looking at the city? Do we spend time observing the landscape in front of us? What about our children? Do they? I don´t think so.

The Italian Psychologist, Miretta Prezza´s, some years ago penned an article named “Children´s independent mobility” and wrote:

For Italian children, the city is mostly a scene that they observe from the car window, from the windows of their home or from clinging to the hand of an adult who forces them to walk at his\ her pace

Such a statement rings true for most of our European children; it is not just an Italian issue!

Through a mixture of parental over-protection as well as failures of modern urban design, children are no longer able to explore their surroundings independently. The consequence of this lack of autonomy is that they are no longer able to enjoy the city as they should. They are not in touch with the urban environment. Thus forth, our children are foreigners in their own towns and cities.

My concern as architect goes beyond this. Our children do not walk around and play outdoors independently, they are not encouraged to observe their surrounds and yet further to this there is a fundamental lack of appreciation for their city.

IMG_1055Prezza´s statement, written in 2007, could be written today, in 2014, as:

For children living in industrialized countries, the city is mostly a scene that they figure out from the corner of their eyes while playing with their parent´s mobile in the car, bus or restaurant

With a multitude of distractions and stimulus, children today find it far more difficult to engage with their urban environment. Without education and instruction, it is clearly more difficult to find appreciation of the rich and enlivening environment that surrounds us: shop windows; kiosks full of colorful magazines; fruit in the market; old and dirty facades; chimneys poking from roofs; flowers hanging from pub entrances; the doors; the balconies; the bricks; people jogging; people walking; people lying in the park…all go unseen.

The city is crowded and full of surprises. As parents and teachers, we have a duty to explain, underline and point out the beauty of our daily life. We need to teach our children that the urban landscape we occupy is unique and precious. We need to draw attention to the things that happen everyday and every second in front of their tiny noses.

Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido.”Little Architect” Director.Architectural Association.London

April 2014

What is Little Architect? Why we teach architecture in Primary Schools?

During first decade of the 21th century, the way we design our cities is changing. The participatory model, the community voice and a fluid dialogue between citizens and politicians is being demanded or, even better, accepted. With a certain, slow pace and a big dose of personal optimism I could assert that future urban processes will be developed within a much deeper implicated social base. Today, it is more necessary than ever that we are educated from a young age in architecture and sustainability.

30.06.15 St Clement Dane School, Drury Lane, London. Little Architects.Architecture is dynamic and comprises multiple social impacts in its development. Architecture is constantly interacting with us; it evolves and gets transformed. It is always there, out in the street and giving us shelter, communicating our past and expressing hopes for new futures. That future is what we – Little Architect´s educators – want to explore with the children, to equip them with tools to understand, enjoy and consciously interact with their built environment. To create a sustainable future we need to invest time and new educational processes in Primary Schools because, as Buckminster Fuller wrote, “children are enthusiastic planetarium audiences”[1]

Torriano School 3-2Little Architect is born as an education and research platform part of the Visiting School based at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. We teach Architecture and Sustainability in London Primary Schools to promote creativity, positive thinking[2] and a better understanding of our shared urban ecosystem. We research and develop architectural teaching resources especially designed for very young children in KS1 and lower KS2.

DSC01518We promote observation and drawing of the built environment to foster awareness for the daily landscapes and hidden treasures that cities offer. We use creativity as a tool to empower children to be more actively critical and propositional citizens.

We believe that architectural teaching in the national curriculum since the early ages is extremely necessary; it would expand children enormous and innate creative potential [3]. They will learn not to fear new shapes and colours, new materials, and least of all new inventions in technology and energy. It would make them more open to architecture evolution and also more critical and propositional about their living environment. In some years we could build a more questioning society and this, ultimately, I think is good. The most effective change should start from the root, and at the AA we have started already!

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One of our main goals is to teach children that cities are remarkable environments where we, as humans, should do our best to realize our own happiness and well-being without compromising either the Earth’s resources or the existence of other urban species.

We aim to teach life-long skills that will enable children to discover the amazing amount of beauty that surrounds them on a daily basis.

Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido. “Little Architect” Director. Architectural Association.

April.2014.London


 

[1] Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. R. Buckminster Fuller. 1969

[2] Positive education: Positive Psychology and classroom interventions. Martin Seligman. Oxford Review of Education Vol. 35, No. 3, June 2009

[3] Why Creativity Now? A Conversation with Sir Ken Robinson. September 2009 | Volume 67 | Number 1 Teaching for the 21st Century Pages 22-26