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Medal Winner 2015

Space as the Third teacher: An alternative classroom typology promoting creative learning and play

Part 1 Project 2015
Boon Yik Chung
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) London UK
This project takes a philosophical and theoretical path in searching for an alternative classroom typology for a Montessori school in Florida.

Montessori children learn from playing with auto-didactic toys, designed to facilitate individual discovery and stimulate creativity.

Expanded from Froebel Gifts, the Montessori’s toys are minimalist and ambiguous objects, representing abstract ideas and inviting open-ended play. Pioneering 20th-century artists e.g. Mondrian attested to the influence of the toys in their pursuit of ‘the Abstract’.

‘The wood blocks are in my fingers to this day’
-Frank Lloyd Wright

Research into these toys reveals the weakness of contemporary classroom typology, which draws sharp unhelpful physical and psychological boundaries between spaces, play and learning.

‘Play is the work of a child’
-Maria Montessori

This proposal imbues the architecture with the same notion of ambiguity and open-endedness found in the toys.

The classroom becomes a loosely defined space created by a collection of ‘architectural suggestions’ surrounding a core in which a learning group is based. Spaces are to be interpreted and negotiated; they are incomplete without the presence of the users.

‘ Children develop through interactions, first with … lives-parents and teachers, then with their peers and ultimately with the environment.’

‘Space is the third teacher.’
-Loris Malaguzzi

Boon Yik Chung

Tutor(s)
Mr Rhys Cannon
Colin Herperger
2015
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