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Rethinking School Design
Detail: A Space for Learning, organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF), invited established architects and young graduates to work with transition-year students to come up with different ways of looking at schools. At the beginning of this year 120 architects were paired with 1,500 students in 90 schools across the country.

The results of their work have been published in a new book and 10 of the projects appear in an exhibition in the gallery at the National College of Art Design, in Dublin. Both book and exhibition are teeming with ideas. Athlone Community College, for example, turns prefabricated buildings into Enviro-fab ones. Its self-sufficient prefabs run on solar and wind power, which can be connected or separated as needed.

A striking number of the projects focus on the outdoors. There are remarkable gardens, an amphitheatre and a huge dome that turns one school into something like the Eden Project in Cornwall. Students experience schools in the spaces where they interact with their peers. It is not so much about the classroom itself. Whether or not we are aware of it, architecture exerts an influence on how we feel, how we act, even how we are able to move from place to place. In a school it can change the experience from being taught to learning. A central theme explored by students and their architect mentors throughout A Space for Learning is a strong emphasis on the informal areas of the school: the places of recreation, gathering and play.
Source: “Can we have our lessons outside?”, The Irish Times, December 4, 2010 Saturday
Date: December 10 2010