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!

Teaching The Future

Future cities and citizens

Extract of EdgeCondition Issue 4. For the full article click on the link below. http://www.edgecondition.net/vol-4-teaching-the-future.html

“London through Florence Nightingale´s life” Three sessions project at St Luke´s Cofe Primary School. London

Teaching architecture to young children can be approached in many different ways, due to the richness of our discipline, so we have tried to choose and compile some inspirational theories to shape our programme. We could start with R. Buckminster Fuller´s planetarium concern, his opposition to specialization in education[1] and his practical examples of children’s endless capacity to understand complex concepts[2]. Colin Ward and his book “The Child in the City” inspires us to look for teaching resources in every corner of London, and Paul Goodman´s educational theories add a pinch of insurrection and sabotage[3]. The life of Ruth Asawa[4], American artist and former student at The Black Mountain College, is an example to follow, as she transformed and improved the whole school curriculum of what today is called the San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Sir Ken Robinson[5] and Martin Seligman´s books[6] encourage us to create enthusiastic and positive lectures so we talk about hidden monsters and magnificent treasures in windows, roofs or doors in every presentation, since fostering curiosity and observation is key for us. “The Eyes of the Skin”, J. Pallasma’s already classic book, leads us to talk not only about observing architecture but also about feeling architecture. We look for textures, we tell children to touch everything (sorry parents!) – facades, stairs, floors, grass – to smell every material, and even listen to buildings, for there are many times unnoted sounds in architecture are amazing discoveries for children.

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Having an imaginary walk with Florence Nightingale to show her: London in 2015!

A long list of architects and artists with utopian proposals and a deep concern about the public realm provide core material for our presentations: Yona Friedman, Peter Cook, Haus Rucker Co, CJ Lim, Lucien Kroll, Archigram, Lina Bo Bardi, Richard Rogers and Gego, Oiticica, Leon Ferrari, Antony Gormley, to give some examples. We try to accommodate in our sessions different ways to engage with architecture, following Howard Gardner´s multiple intelligences theory[7]. We encourage drawing and lots of conversation; sometimes we nearly run out of time for finishing the class exercise, as children’s commentaries can be so sharp and interesting. I still remember last year’s debate about MRDV “Rooftop Village” in Rotterdam: Thumbs up or Thumbs down for the blue house. It was only after a long and heated debate that those who liked the blue house won.

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London Town Hall ( stair case) more beautiful than ever.

After sowing the idea that architecture can be much more interesting and playful that they thought, we mainly want to let children express themselves in their favourite way. We set up a creative environment and drawings are taken as communication tools. As children learn about the evolution of cities from past to present, about fauna and flora, transport and clean energy, the urban ecosystem is revealed. They have a moment to think and meditate: What do I want to draw, what am I designing? What do I want for my future house, city, local area or school? We teach them to think about their future; they are the decision makers, they are the main characters in the play. The process, in this case, is much more important than the result. We want them to learn that they can do the same activity while they are sitting at home, travelling by bus or waiting for food in a restaurant: They can observe, draw, comment and imagine their future city inside and outside our lessons.

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A future block of flats. No boundaries, pure creativity. 5 y.old girl- We love it!

Our aim is definitely not to indoctrinate children to become architects. Rather, we want children to be much more active in urban processes. We want to trigger a new relationship with their local surroundings, in which they are caring for, but also enjoying and being critical of the cities we all inhabit. That is our main task – to teach them that the future is theirs.

Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido.Little Architect Director

 

[1] R. Buckminster Fuller. Operating Manual for Spaceship.p24-26

 

[2] R. Buckminster Fuller.Utopia or Oblivion.P28-29

 

[3] Colin Ward. The child in the city. P176

 

[4] The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa. Contours in the air. 2006

 

[5]   Ken Robinson .The arts in school. 1982

 

[6] Martin Seligman. The Optimistic child. 2007

 

[7] Howard Gardner. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. 1983

Little Architect Projects Review!!

clenkerwell greenLittle Architect, the new AA Visiting School Programme, is preparing  lessons for the next school year and contacting primary schools in and out of London. During July, our aim is to summarize and explain to you, the objectives that we achieve during our in-school lessons.  Stephanie Taylor, a year four teacher, from Hugh Myddelton School penned a review after the completion of our project. It was developed during Geography lessons and the topic was “Your local area”.

We designed an activity called “Your future local area”  working in partnership with two teachers Stephanie Taylor and Simon Evans. Here is the fantastic review:

“The involvement was over 3 sessions with two Year 4 classes with children with a range of abilities, including a child with significant visual impairment.

Our first session was a visit around the local area following a short introduction about features of buildings, encouraging the children to look for the details. Lola (Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido, the programme director) was fantastic in leading this activity, challenging children to find interesting motifs in a familiar environment. Having the sessions firmly rooted in the area the children are familiar with was very effective. The children enjoyed this greatly and were activly engaged and excited to find new and different perspectives on their environment.

The second session took the information and images gathered on our local area walk, and then older images were incorporated in an accessible visual format to identify changes in the local area and why the buildings have changed. Giving the children a broader perspective on their area, and an understanding that our world is not static. The children were then encouraged to think of what they would change if they could. There was plenty of opportunities for the children to develop their understanding both by discussion with their peers and with the expert input from the “Little Architect” tutor.

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Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 22.58.54 The third session built further on this idea of change and the Little Architect presentation shared images and information on a range of real, and concept buildings which really engaged the children’s creativity. The ideas of sustainability and the use of renewable energy were very clear and the children took these ideas and utilised the inspiration from Lola to design creative and ‘green’ buildings that could shape their local area in the future.

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Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 22.45.13The three sessions worked well as a progressive theme and the children were fully engaged and inspired. Their creations were far more complex and thoughtful than I anticipated and this is due in the main to the inspirational images and knowledge that Little Architect built up over the sessions. This work has helped the children to become more aware of the environmental impact of architecture and possibly even begun to shape the future. The children are much more proactive with regards to recycling and energy consumption. Another important thing, is that the children were able to see and experience a different perspective on their area and hopefully begin to have ambitions for the future that are more varied than before.

The children and I are very thankful that we were involved in the project and we are justifiably proud of the designs that were created, this would not have been possible without “Little Architect”. I hope that many other children get to experience this project, it was fantastic.

Many thanks. Stephanie Taylor. Year 4 teacher and ICT leader. Hugh Myddelton Primary School. Islington. London

It was our pleasure to work in Hugh Myddelton School and its creative students!

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