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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Creative, curious and conscious citizens for the future

Little Architect-016-Betty Layward

Little Architect Project in Betty Layward School. Hackney.

To create good architecture there are two necessary ingredients: good architects and good clients. Our mission or responsibility as architects is not just to design or to teach others to be architects, it is also to bring architecture to society and to create an awareness about architecture with the people who use it. This is why, in a similar way to how the AA Public Programme makes architectural education accessible to adults, we ( at the AA Visiting School) have decided to start teaching architecture to children. 

Little Architect, is a move towards an aim of raising committed citizens with knowledge about contemporary architecture and an appreciation for design, which, in turn, will naturally generate more good clients for the future. When the magnificent opportunity of designing a new project comes along for any architect, having an interested, engaged and knowledgable client means that the discussion would be egalitarian and productive. By making architecture accessible to clients to make them interested and informed, the terrain for making architecture will no longer be a battlefield but a place for negotiation, agreement, understanding and especially a place for making dreams a reality. If we could just have a generation of children who were educated in contemporary architecture, it suddenly would be really easy to find support for campaigns such as the one led by the Twentieth Century Society and Richard Rogers to save Robin Hood Gardens from demolition.

Another powerful reason to push for this programme to grow is because even today children´s literacy, toys and many movies are sending them the wrong message regarding the ideal house. For most of our children, in an overpopulated urban environment like London, it will be nearly impossible to afford a “lovely house with a garden and a garage,” which is hardly even a reasonable sustainable model to foster. We have to change their expectations or at least give them other valuable options. It is serious stuff! If we don’t improve the way architecture is being perceived by children today, and if we don’t talk to them positively about vertical architecture, communal areas and communities, shared spaces, etc, we are betraying them by setting them up for a future of disappointment and unfulfilled dreams.

Little architect 015-Kate DaviesThis is why as an architect with my fair share of grey hair already, I decided to start teaching children to admire, enjoy and embrace contemporary architecture, utopian projects, new materials and shapes although always with an eye towards our cities’ heritage. They need to learn about the tangible and the intangible, the built environment and the beautiful net of human relationships and interactions – which are all equally important to creating good design.

Architecture will not develop itself further, if clients tend to fear any deviations from the norm as well as the architects who propose to do so. 

I’ve largely designed buildings during my career, but my expertise lies in urbanism. For this reason I know how important it is to have good politicians to plan the future of our cities. Educating children about architecture is not only about creating good clients, it is also about informing the next generation of decision-makers. Some of our kids today will be the politicians and public servants of tomorrow, and our future cities will need them to have a certain amount of knowledge or at least curiosity for contemporary architecture. We need sensible urbanism and sustainable actions, and the seeds for all of this needs to be sown in schools. Primary and secondary school education is an experience nearly all of us share. Primary Education is the most relevant of all the educational stages since it is the one which shapes our society, whereas subsequent education shapes professionals.

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Childhood is the moment where our bodies and minds are thirsty for novelty, our curiosity is intact and our creativity is immense. This is when we need to learn that architecture is an art with infinite capabilities and that we have to learn to enjoy place – our towns and cities, as much as we love our countryside. Clients, consumers and users should admire the future and the present, not just the past! The past had glorious moments but the future is ours.

The mission of Little Architect is to instil this feeling of ownership and responsibility for our built environment in children from a young age, because we need more creative, curious and conscious citizens for the future. Little Architect is a form of architectural outreach on behalf of the AA, and my humble contribution to a more committed and critical future for London’s built environment and society.

Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido-May 2016

Video St Clement Danes Final Assembly.

School closing assembly of a whole school wonderful project! 

St. Clements Danes Primary School, in Drury Lane, opted to have every class year, from year 1 to Year 6 inclusive, participate in Little Architect workshops. As such, we were afforded the unique opportunity to present our work and ourselves to the entire school, in a tailor made assembly presentation. We showed all the varied work, which we would be doing throughout the different years of the school, and also introduced them to some of the main concepts which drives our work with students. While we were able to start the project at St. Clements Danes with a workshop, we were also lucky in that we were able to also conclude it with a school wide assembly.

In this closing assembly, watch the video below! we showed the work produced by the different classes, and even brought some of the classes together to demonstrate their work alongside their younger and older piers. For example, year six was asked to present a series of plays, which they had written to compliment a series of drawings of the future, which they had made, alongside drawings of the past and present, which other years had made. The theatre itself had been made by us, Little Architect, prior to the beginning of the project, and was left with the school as a present to further use. Similarly, the work of year five was brought together in a large collage, which we also presented in the assembly. Again, we felt that this is an important aspect of creative design and thinking, as students to see a very large and, in our opinion very beautiful piece of work, which came from their own work, in a relatively short period of time. We concluded the assembly by asking what students felt they had learned about architecture and the city. The full potential of running such an extensive workshop really became apparent in this final assembly as students asked question and commented about not only their own work, but also the work of other years. It was a terrific experience! Thanks St Clements and specially  CAPCO ( Capital and Counties) for funding all the lessons and the following exhibition at the Building Centre.

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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Christopher Hatton Future Local Area- Mount Pleasant- London

Date: 23rd September 2014
School: Christopher Hatton Primary School
Sessions: 1 x 1.5hr – Year 2; 30 Students
LA Tutors: Lola (Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido)
Supporting Local Teacher: Sophie Klimt

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.We were very creative during this day and I think this objective was definitely met! Thank you for a lovely session” Sophie Klimt. Year 2. Teacher 


Your Local Area

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Objectives for the children:
Know your local area. Observe its present and imagine the future of it. The main idea is empowering the children to have aspirations to improve and engage with their built environment. Fostering observation. Fostering creative thinking.

How: Drawing and collaging our local area in both the present and the future.

Theoretical section: Children sitting on the carpet.

1-What is a collage?
To explain the concept of collaging we showed a halfway done collage of the present local area to be finished with the children in the classroom. The collage was made with the assistance of the teacher Sophie Klimt in the previous days to the workshop, including, not only pictures of the immediate area, but also pictures of the students in the class itself. This particular addition brings the idea of belonging to a place. Students in KS1 gets very enthusiastic with the idea of themselves being part of the process and the outcome in a very obvious way. The idea is to teach that they are relevant figures to the present of the city.

2-Observation:
A 30 min Keynote presentation was designed to discuss the local area main aspects. We discussed the importance of observation of and participation and within the local area. In the presentation and through pictures took from their local area, we analyzed hidden details in windows and roofs that could have passed unnoticed if we did not pay attention. We offered tools and guided these children to be more observant in a playful way
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In the following part of the presentation we turned to discuss what we would like our future cities to look like. Firstly we played a game naming different types of buildings ie: offices, museums, houses, theatres…We presented several examples of contemporary buildings and introduced students to the importance of clean energy, encouraging the coexistence of other species with humans and buildings (urban ecosystems) we talked about the concept of urban farming, extensions etc. little architect 014
4-Hands on section (individual activity, creative thinking): Each student was given on A4 paper and asked to draw a building that they would like to see in their future local area. It is important to us to encourage students to create fun, creative and colorful designs. We forbid rulers, and encourage students to draw freehand and be playful. During this time, we make sure to take some time with each student, to discuss what they are drawing, and to encourage them to be as creative as they like. We foster the hyphotetical thinking and the abstract thinking encouraging children to think of themselves in the future.

Last section (team work activity): Once the drawings were finished, we then provided the class with two A1 sheets, on which students made a collage of their future local area. While the earlier tasks of drawing were individual and fostered individual creative skills, this last exercise was a group work, and students had to work together, to bring their individual drawings into a coherent and unified group collage – fostering teamwork, discussion and agreement between peers.
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Post Disaster Architecture (for an imaginary new Big Fire of London)

The Great Fire of London. 1666

POP UP CARDS
Eaton House Primary School, 12 May 2015

Director&Tutor: Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido

Contributor:Eva Ibañez Fuertes ( AA Intermediate 12 student)

Year 2 School Coordinator: Annabelle McWhirterIMG_0924

Session Summary: During the morning and afternoon of May the 12th, 2015, Little Architect taught three Year 2 Class at the Eaton House Primary School. Each of these classes included  30 minutes dedicated to a keynote presentation, and one hour dedicated to students drawing and presenting their work to one another. The presentation allowed us to engage in a relaxed conversation with our six years old students, while also giving them the opportunity to see and discuss concepts, which would not normally be introduced into their curriculum.

Our presentation referred to the Great Fire of London, and our task, was to imagine a temporary city or camp in the case of a future fire. In order to create their own future projects, we gave them A1 cards in the shape of a folder where we had previously glued a landscape with engravings and maps from London in 1666. We asked them to imagine this future city in 2050; at around the time they will be 40. We felt that this would encourage the students to think of themselves as the citizens who will help create the future city! 

We made sure that each student had a chance to have a personal conversation with one or more of the Little Architect tutors. We also made sure to include both individual and group work and finally in everything that we did, we aimed to foster creative thinking. Their POP UP Cards are amazing! We gathered all kind of portable and temporary architecture. We loved all their designs and the way they put them together.

Below you will find a more detailed summary of how this happened.

1-Historical links: We prepared some slides with carefully chosen engravings. We showed them London during The Great Fire of 1666. We placed special emphasis on the changes that this catastrophe caused in the lives of ordinary Londoners, not only in its consequences of the built environment. We chose one particular engraving where the children could see “homeless” Londoners after The Great Fire. This is important to us as we aim get them thinking about architecture and its inhabitants at the same time. We also showed them a map dating from just after the fire showing the extent of the damage and in this way the students also learned about the scale of the fire.

 Fire-Day3-13002-Architectural links: In order to help them in imagining their future city we showed them examples of contemporary architecture and architecture post disaster, including some utopian projects of the 1960’s, such as Archigram’s “Walking City”. We also showed several examples of recent temporary camps in Syria and in the US after Katrina Hurricane. In all these examples we focused on temporary and mobile architecture.

 new_orleans_pink_houses_graftlab010408_megan_grant_1GREE_living pod-1-1965 3-Science links: After an earlier conversation with the class teacher, we decided to emphasize different materials in architecture: from plastic and inflatable structures to fabric and glass. They learned about prefabrication, portable structures, light metal, wood, etc. This was done in order to prepare them for the final phase of the activity: the design and drawing of their temporary camp for an imaginary fire in London again.

air stream american 40´s colourscapelarge4-Engaging with children culture: In our presentations for KS1, we normally include some cartoons, to make links with movies that they are familiar with. On this occasion we chose: Howl’s moving Castle and Sandy’s House from Sponge Bob Square pants. We showed them several examples of simple structures such as Igloos to Tipis, as a way to give them ideas of how they can design a temporary house. We also used several slides from David Jenkins new book for kids, “An Igloo on the moon.” Finally we showed Buckminster Fuller’s dome and Drop city, both of which were very popular.

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 The_Treedome5-Individual versus group. During the drawing and presentation segment, the children were divided in small groups of four. To begin with they worked individually, we encouraged them to discuss their ideas with one another debates and before they started their designs. Once they had finished their individual drawings, they cut out their designs. At this stage, we asked them to work in groups and they had to decide how to glue their designs on the card given. In this section of the workshop, conversation and decision-making is crucial as we foster agreements about the position that each drawing (building) should occupy. At that moment we say that we are mimicking what architects, politicians and other urban agents do in real life. We explain that the city is made out of agreements and lot of conversations between different professionals about its future. Is important when we point out real mechanisms of urban development to include children in the process and empower them in the decisions making. They have to know, that even being children they have the rights and the power to complain about or praise anything in their urban environment.  LITTLE ARCHITECT-EATON HOUSE 14 LITTLE ARCHITECT-EATON HOUSE 156-Creative thinking. Last but not least, in our conversations with the children, we foster creative thinking and we encourage utopian ideas. We don’t care about the feasibility of their proposals, or, for that matter, about size, material or, of course, the costs. They are free to design whatever proposal they want because we say that everything is possible, maybe not in the present, but it will be possible in the future when some of them (our pupils) would have developed the technology. The idea is to transmit very clearly that they will change and improve the city because they will be the professionals of tomorrow.LITTLE ARCHITECT-EATON HOUSE 32 IMG_0921

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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

 

How are we teaching architecture in London´s primary schools?

We would like to share with you our first video. We have summarised here, how we teach architecture in London´s primary schools. We teach from Year 1 to Year 5, our students are VERY young! We feel extremely lucky having the opportunity to teach to these children.

The future is theirs: They need to think about it.

Thanks for watching!