2014. november 18., kedd

How big is a tree? : )

An architecture education workshop with multiple outputs, where we LEARN ABOUT...

We have a close encounter with a tree/bush - in our minds.

By sitting down in a circle in the classroom - learning about that everything is forming space.
By thinking about a tree/bush - learning about the richness and scalelessness of our imagination.
By discussing about a tree/bush - learning about our differences and the completing qualities towards each other.

We have a close encounter with a tree/bush - in reality.

By going to the woods - learning about the connection between natural and built environment.
By looking around for the appropriate tree/bush - learning about collecting data.
By choosing one - learning about weighing our options and making decisions as a group.
We compare ourselves with the tree/bush.

By measuring it by ourselves - learning about scale, size and anthropometric measurement units.
By digging it out - learning about a tree’s natural structure and the use of a spade.
By taking it home - learning about logistics and the weight of things.

We take the tree/bush inside our built environment.

By fitting the tree/bush in a room - learning about our senses tricking us in size and scale and about what counts as trash where.
By casting strong light beams upon it from different points - learning about projection.
By putting it in a corner - learning about the idea behind the Monge Projection.

We map and record the tree/bush.

By drawing the outlines of its shadows - learning about plans and elevations.
By removing and re-imagining it according to the drawings - learning about the possibilities of our minds and the work of an architect.

We take the tree/bush apart.

By cutting, sawing, tearing it into bits - learning about how to use different tools.
By taking off one kind of an element at a time - learning about the role of each element in a structure and the connections between them to form a system.
By piling up yields, leaves, branches, trunks - learning about the complexity of an otherwise usual thing.

We arrange the different elements according to their qualities.

By laying the branches one after the other -learning about lines.
By laying the leaves next to each other - learning about planes.
By piling up yields - learning about volumes.

We measure it exactly.

By measuring the parts according to their geometrical properties - learning about length, area and volume.
By measuring everything using our official measurements - learning about comparability.
By making a list of its properties - learning about different qualities.

We build a new structure.

By building up the structure - learning about load-bearing, rigidity and architectonics.
By binding the elements together - learning about joints.
By helping each other during construction - learning about team-work.
By using all the elements of the tree - learning about waste and sustainability.
By trying to create an interior space for one - learning about scale, our size and spatial needs.
By trying to reach the tree’s/bush’s former size - learning about the laws and wisdom of nature.
By reaching its former size (at least in one direction) - learning about the creativity of man.

The ‘How big is a tree?’ workshop
  • is designed for children between 6-10 years old, however it also works with older generations.
  • is ideal as an introductory class in architecture/spatial education for both architects, drawing and art teachers and visual culture educators, because it connects with them easily and gives spatial creation experiences without the overwhelming verbal or visual use of architectural jargon.
  • is time-effective. The whole process usually takes altogether 7 hours, so you can do it in a day, if needed, such as project days in schools.
  • can be divided in many parts (as the list above suggests), because it is easy to continue from where the group left it.
  • consists of sections focusing on different issues of spatial education and the learning process. These parts can be taken out and done separately, provided the whole story is told to the children, preferably with images of the other phases presented.
  • needs a significant amount of space (the branches of an average bush add up to more than 1 km(!) if laid one after the other). 
  • introduces the use of materials and hence sustainability in a dramatic way.
  • is cheap. With only a few tools (to take the tree/bush apart) and some rope (to put the new structure together) the team is ready - only a tree/bush is needed.
  • is easy to manage, because the tasks are not too complicated, so the teacher doesn’t have to focus on explaining everything long and detailed, rather than just giving a hint for the next step and paying attention to where help is needed. (and where the saw is : )

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