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A Designer’s perspective on Pedagogy


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If this is all about children’s learning, what can a designer possibly contribute to the outdoor environment of a school?

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A Designer’s perspective on Pedagogy

  1. 1. A Designer’s perspective on Pedagogy Jill Rice, Landscape Architect 500 Lyons Rd, RD 1 Pokeno, NZ 2471 *64 21 1825002 World Forum on Design and Nature March 2015
  2. 2. Case Study 1 Swanson School “The school with no rules”, and not much outdoor design! If this is all about children’s learning, what can a designer possibly contribute to the outdoor environment of a school? Bruce McLachlan Principal
  3. 3. Swanson School then... Area designed by Jill Rice to “repurpose” the old swimming pool area, back in 2004
  4. 4. Swanson School now... Students have been given freedom to “repurpose” the playground equipment in whatever way they choose
  5. 5. Other loose materials are available to them to create their own play structures and games
  6. 6. During play times, students are allowed to ride bikes, scooters, play anywhere on anything....
  7. 7. Duty teachers are available, not as agents of control but as active participants with the children in their creative play-making activities
  8. 8. Students are free to engage in physical challenge, dramatic and cooperative play using the natural environment and whatever loose materials they can gather
  9. 9. Children are thoroughly engaged and physically active during their times of recess, and staff report improvements in behaviour, less accidents and greater enjoyment of learning as a result
  10. 10. Messy / Loose parts Tidy / Organised Natural / Informal Manufactured / Constructed Unsupervised Supervised Free and easy access Limited / managed access No or few rules, developed by children Rules imposed by adults Risk focussed and learning assessed Safety focussed and risk assessed Child initiated Adult engineered Raw/ unfinished Published / polished Process valued / open to change Finished product valued /complete Renewable / recyclable Low maintenance / permanent Looks are not important Aesthetic considerations are also important Environmental variables – which is best for learning? The experience of Swanson School poses this challenge to us as designers of children’s environments - what really matters in order to extend children in their learning and enjoyment of a space?
  11. 11. Case Study 2 Experience Trail and Learning Hub Auckland Council Waste Minimisation Learning Centre Designed by Jill Rice, Get Outside Ltd Location at Waitakere Transfer Station in Auckland Concept Plan of Overall Area Location of Experience Trail and Learning Centre
  12. 12. The Transfer Station Site – above, the children on guided tours of the transfer station; below, the original Learning Centre for children before the Experience Trail was developed.
  13. 13. • to be an interactive area in the learning centre garden for visitors to explore • to demonstrate sustainable waste practices and include zones with waste minimisation themes such as reduce, reuse, recycle, rot/compost, grow and zero waste. • to contain messages linking the learning space to the water and biodiversity surrounding it. • to include interpretative signage, pathways, plants and outdoor furniture. • to be made of materials that have been sustainably sourced and that demonstrate reuse and up-cycling in an engaging way. The Brief for the new Learning Centre Environment ... getting the Waste Minimisation message across
  14. 14. Initial concept design and flow plan 1 2 3 4 56 7 1 Outdoor classroom 2 Play/ picnic area 3 Rot - decomposers 4 Recycle – sorting station 5 Organic – worm farms, compost bins 6 Reuse hard materials 7 Water conservation Area to be broken up into different zones for learning about different aspects of waste minimisation, with all structures and links between spaces made using materials from the Transfer Station
  15. 15. Experience Trail Developed Design Developed Flow Diagram showing entry and water flow Developed Landscape Concept Plan
  16. 16. • Functionality • Flow • Context • Materiality • Aesthetic appeal • Fun! Key Design Considerations Materials gathered from the Transfer Station for use in the Trail Materials reused to make the surfaces and structures and to add a bit of fun!
  17. 17. Entry Appeal and Cultural Connection Children from local schools helped with the artwork for the entry Tree sculptures were made using material from the Transfer Station
  18. 18. Gabion basket benches and timber pellet seats for social interaction Sketches were drawn, images collected and ideas discussed regarding the construction and design of elements for the Trail
  19. 19. Bug Hotel , worm farms and composting for environmental awareness
  20. 20. Water feature fun The water tower is made using many different “found” items and materials and is powered by pedal power using an old exercycle to drive a second-hand pump
  21. 21. Sign is adapted from an old piece of play equipment, a Tic Tac Toe, and has images of objects used in the Trail for the children to find Sign, Gardens, Paving and Other Surprise Elements! Swanson School children enjoying the learning environment of the Trail
  22. 22. Second-hand Materials to Inspire Resourcefulness in the “Make Space”
  23. 23. Completed Experience Trail Birds-eye view shows the context of the Experience Trail above an estuarine river, which offers the opportunity for learning about the wider environment and our duty to care for it
  24. 24. So how can a design of outdoor environments assist in the delivery of curriculum? • The designer must listen carefully to understand the learning goals and methods of the teachers and students, and act as a facilitator of the learning process • Good design provides a functional and beautiful framework within which learning can occur • It ensures there is good flow, considers the context, makes the space comfortable, sources appropriate materials and uses them in innovative ways • The learning environment should not be Overdesigned, but should offer the possibility for ongoing input by the learners and users of the space • Like the original playground designed for Swanson School, it may become the catalyst for something even more amazing in the future, designed and made by the students themselves!