Post Disaster Architecture (for an imaginary new Big Fire of London)

The Great Fire of London. 1666

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.


 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