Our latest future focused project is a sanctuary for life and the preservation of life.
Symbolically, these beautiful, glimmering and lush megastructures will be a homage to all life on earth. The circular form, which is a prominent feature for this project aligns itself philosophically to this project which focuses on purity and a common sense of unity for life. This particular megastructure is located close to the river at Battersea Park in London, United Kingdom.
Functionally, these buildings will be dedicated to servicing both the living and the future of life. In terms of preserving the future of life, the main function for the building is to function as an embryo and seed bank, which attempts to preserve genetic diversity as well as the continuation of life on earth, should there be a life ending catastrophy. Retaining genetic diversity for seeds is seen as important to keep a variety of genes on hand with useful features as needed, such as drought or disease resistance. Preserving animal embryos is useful for a number of reasons however the ethics as to what can and should be done with them is controversial and is likely to evolve over time. It is proposed that the animal embryos will be stored in the cavernous zone in the centre of the building, which will have stricter temperature controls. The seed banks will be stored in arched vaults around this. Supporting functions such as labs for research and creation of life will be spread throughout, but mostly located around the perimeter.
The orb, that sits atop this proposed building, is a modern day nod to Noah’s Ark; a way of restarting life on Earth after a life ending catastrophic event. The heat resistant, and extra strong outer shell may become grounded, post event, and remain enclosed until it was deemed safe to open up and restart life on Earth. It is proposed that at least one embryo for each group of species would be stored in the low temperature orb, for future birth and germination. The orb, which sits around the lower layer of clouds has a dual function of collecting water, through condensation. Additionally, water sourced from the city’s polluted waterways is collected through a damn, located adjacent to the tower and river, and then pumped up the tower using hydro-electricity.
WATER PURIFICATION: All collected water is then filtered down through integrated charcoal filters to the ground where it would help to replenish and irrigate the land as well as provide a clean, local water source. We imagine that this would be distributed through public water fountains throughout the city providing free and clean drinking water for all. Note that the dark opaque parts of the crystalline structure above ground are actually filled with charcoal, which is used to purify water.
AIR PURIFICATION: The innermost zone of our building is the lush, planted zone where plants are grown organically in the purest air, with purified water. The air is purified through the high concentration of plants, which absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen and eliminate significant amounts of other pollutants such as benzne, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
PLANT NUTRITION: The plants will get nutrition from the latest hydrogel technology, a clear film, developed in Japan called Imec. The gel absorbs water and nutrients through its numerous nano-sized pores while blocking germs and viruses.
STRUCTURE: We propose that the crystalline parts of the tower will be built up using solar sintering drones that can solidify sand into glass. Glass would be recycled and crushed to a fine sand, from urban dwellers, and used to create the bulk of the tower. Refer to Markus Kayser’s Solar sinter project: https://vimeo.com/25401444 Humans currently use approximately 200 kilos of glass on average per year.
(More information for our biotechnology and architecture research is available here: http://www.atelieraitken.org/futurelab/city-and-home-design-for-the-future-utilising-biodesign-and-smart-technologies)
ACCESS: Stairs and elevators are a thing of the past, the very thing that allowed skyscrapers to exist in the first place. We imagine all access is by drone pods. Members of the public, in restricted numbers, can fly into the sanctuary (remaining on pods at all times) to breathe in the oxygen rich, purified air for healing and relaxation. Staff can access their various areas on their pods, which are secured using current access technology.
Core Project Team: Jo Aitken, Alice O'Brien-Gortner, Madumal Gunaratna & Sophie Daly.
Presented by ArchitectureNow, Panuku and the NZ Institute of Architects: this research project was exhibited in an 'architecture meets science meets art' fashion at Silo 6, Wynyard Quarter for an Exhibition at the New Zealand Festival of Architecture from 7 - 17th September 2017. We worked with Monmouth Studio to create the installations. ACE from University of Auckland will be exhibiting and running Augmented Reality demonstrations with the Microsoft Hololenses courtesy of E-Research Lab.
Cities across the world need to stop urban sprawl and focus on a programme of re-naturalisation and sustainable development. We are a group of architects, designers and scientists working together to discover ways in which we can heal the damage brought about by the industrial revolution and take us back into the future. Biotechnology and smart technologies can allow us to create developments and live lifestyles that don't rely on fossil fuels. Bio-design harnesses living materials, whether they are cultured tissues or plants, and embodies the dream of organic design: watching objects grow and, after the first impulse, letting nature, the best among all engineers and architects, run its course. It goes without saying that when the materials of design are not plastics, wood, ceramics, or glass, but rather living beings or living tissues, the implications of every project reach far beyond the form/function equation and any idea of comfort, modernity, or progress. Design transcends its traditional boundaries and aims straight at the core of the moral sphere.
From Svetlana: Imagine you arrive at the desired destination and you are ready to build and live in your house. What could that be like in the future? We believe that the living matter will change the way we think of homes and how we design and build things. The reasons for this are two fundamental properties: first, is that living matter is a programmable material in other words the instructions for the shape, size, colour, pattern or behaviour can be encoded in its DNA and second that living matter is a manufacturing technology, which means that hypothetically any product can be manufactured renewably, quickly and on demand. However, using these properties we can go beyond simply producing materials. It has been recently shown that cells can be programmed to alert and heal you when you are ill. For example, Martin Fussenegger's group has built programmed cells that can detect disease-relevant metabolites in the blood and trigger the production of therapeutic compounds. In mice, these biosensors successfully staved off gout and obesity, and treated the skin disease psoriasis1 ('Living pills').
In spite of progress in the field of biotechnology one question still remains, is it possible to decentralise the whole of industry including the petrochemical industry through using living matter. Answering this question will illuminate how we perceive the realm of possibilities. One could imagine having our needs met locally and completely independent from centralised industry including being able to build a house from living matter in perfect harmony with the nature."
1. Schukur, L., Geering, B., Charpin-El Hamri, G. & Fussenegger, M. Sci. Transl. Med. 7, 318ra201 (2015).
PART ONE: HOW BIOTECHNOLOGY CAN TAKE US BACK, INTO THE FUTURE
We are currently researching the following typologies for the future: Sand dune homes, Alpine homes, Forest Homes as well as a typical urban apartment system. In addition to exploring the biotechnologies utilised in these schemes, another important part of the scheme was to create homes that also visually re-naturalise the environment, giving more people the opportunity to live in 'idyllic' settings, while reversing the damage created by the fossil fuelled industrial revolution. Technology is decreasing the need for people to work and live in centralised locations. In addition to this, our current economic model of capitalism which requires economic growth, is causing hugely detrimental effects to our environment. Pushing towards a higher level of self-sufficiency is needed to create balance between humanity and planet earth. We are proposing a new wave of building that opposes urban sprawl and brings us back to nature, while making cities smaller and increasingly environmentally sustainable.
NEW COASTAL MODEL - EROSION PROTECTION SAND DUNE HOMES
The sand dune homes are part of a larger coastal corrosion control scheme, using bacteria and urea, to transform the sand into sand stone for building structures and retaining structures. The sand dune structures could also create a filtration system that prevents oceanic pollution. It is proposed that a key material source for these structures will be recycled glass, of which humans use approximately 200kgs each per year on average. We also believe that packaging will mostly consist of glass and bio-plastic in the very near future. Refer to our future kitchen scheme for packaging reduction.
- Preventive of erosion
- Integrated glass recycling machines and re-use of glass
- Stormwater filtration scheme to prevent pollution of the ocean
DOMESTIC & TECHNOLOGICAL COMPONENTS:
- Algae harvest station, found in the circular zone in front of the home, processed via taps, to create a key food and fuel source for the inhabitants and surrounding areas.
- Bacteria and urea generate sandstone, formally, which could be controlled at a national level to manage coastal erosion
- Solar Drone 3D printing of sand or recycled glass fragments to create glass panels
NEW ALPINE HOME MODEL
3d printing could radically transform the way we design and build homes. The alpine 'tree' house gets its initial inspiration from the snow covered roof structures already found in alpine regions where spikes are located on the roof at regular intervals to help hold the snow onto the roof structure. The full surround spikes not only hold the snow on the structure over winter to provide insulation to the building, they also let circles of light into the space. Clear solar PV cells located at the ends of the spikes, which are kept warm to prevent snow cover, provide energy to the dwelling, which is stored in the bio-battery. No external power is required and water can be collected, purified and stored within the structure. Formally it has been driven by the micro-structure of snowflakes to create modular and varied homes. It is proposed that the crystalline, modular panel system, will be 3d printed with bio-materials and then assembled on site.
Prevention of global warming through sustainable design using new technologies
DOMESTIC & TECHNOLOGICAL COMPONENTS:
- Transparent 3d printed spike system on all faces for insulation and light-catching (Cellulose nano-crystals (found in plants, algae, and bacteria) have the ‘stiffness of steel, are renewable and biodegradable )
- Bio-energy generated from sunlight and reflections of natural light; housed in tree bio-batteries (Bio-batteries are wood pulp cellulose (“foam-like” aerogel); treated with electronic properties)
- Bioluminescent trees (GMO trees)
- Therapeutic Sleeping hammocks on a pulley system - similar to our urban therapy pods, the hammocks could provide a variety of therapies including vitamin D therapy.
- Re-fillable glass tube kitchen storage system and automatically watered and lit food growth systems.
NEW RURAL RE-FORESTATION HOME MODEL
This model proposes to 're-green' areas where deforestation has taken place, largely due to agricultural and farming needs, by creating homes that are naturally grown, while providing a key food source for the inhabitants and others. A newly developed clear film system by Imec® creates the nutrition and waterproofing layer for these houses and building structures. Plants can be cultivated and grown on a thin Film made of hydrogel which absorbs water and nutrients through its numerous nano-sized pores but blocks germs and viruses. It is a 'Living' circular scheme dissipating into the environment with maximised growth surfaces.
DOMESTIC & TECHNOLOGICAL COMPONENTS:
Bio-luminescence harvest-time indicators and lighting
Singular membrane with water filtration through dwelling surfaces in combination with root networks
Reduced deforestation or urban sprawl into natural ecosystems
Growth of agriculture without clearing land
An address of food wastes by growing edible matters on local building
PART TWO - How Smart Technologies and Emotional Intelligence will change the way we design our homes and live our lives
Artificial intelligence could be a huge game changer when our at home appliances start to evolve into other things. Our 'fridge' could evolve into our personal therapist, dr and nutritionist in one. We could get our daily health scan and then the kitchen of the future can concoct the perfect meal or smoothie for our physical or mental wellbeing. We can tap into a database to follow other people's diets or cuisine creations. It can get to know our patterns and desires and even become our friend. Maybe a morning chat with this mysterious machine will help us get our thoughts in order for the day. CLICK IMAGE ABOVE to find out more.
CORE PROJECT TEAM:
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Jo Aitken
ARCHITECTURAL TEAM: Alice O'Brien-Gortner, Madumal Gunaratna, Daniel Christev, Sophie Crews, Timothy Yang
LEAD SCIENTIST: Dr Svetlana Boycheva
Special thanks to Jane Strickland, Kelly Aitken and Aaron Beck.
This project brings together an opportunity in the urban landscape, the soon to be obsolete car parking buildings, along with the need to physically transform learning spaces to meet the changing needs of human beings. Education is the premise for our progression as a society, civilisation and species. Architecture is a facilitator for education and has historically been an allegorical codex of how knowledge is transferred in each society. Architecture must therefore accommodate for current changes and instigate a way for new knowledge of education to be manifested in a physical form.
In order to progress society in the right direction we must first understand the current issues it faces, prioritize them according to Maslow’s hierarchy and then address them through the creation of a new learning model that integrates technology, architecture and pedagogy.
Our latest educational project helps to address a number of key issues that we are facing as a society including:
1. Health Issues created from increasingly sedentary lifestyles
2. Social Issues: Inequality. Capitalism has had far reaching negative impacts globally. Once known for being a leader in equality and social standards, shamefully, approximately 30% of our children in New Zealand live below the poverty line. We need to remove any barriers possible to allow all children the chance to be well educated by providing a barrier free and accessible learning environment.
3. Social issues: Ignorance resulting in increasing selfishness and lack of tolerance and empathy in society. Threat of nuclear war and terrorism are serious threats to world peace.
4. Social issue: Isolation and loneliness – In partnership with local rest homes and elderly networks, the learning park offers opportunities for elders to come along and participate in activities with younger generations such as storytelling (fictional and historical), learning games and cultural activities.
5. Social Issue: Attention deficit disorders and short attention spans. We want to provide an opportunity for learning in a way that is engaging, fun and sparks curiosity and therefore a desire to learn.
6. Social issue: Lack of demographic and socio-economic diversity at higher levels in social sector institutions, influencing educational content
7. Environmental Issues – Global warming and pollution are two of our biggest issues, globally. This project would of course demonstrate full sustainable principals, including the repurposing of existing infrastructure.
8. Educational sustainability and Continuing Professional Development(CPD) – The rate of change, accelerated through recent technological advances, means that we need to provide dynamic and accessible learning to all ages to enable people to learn and upgrade their skills to stay relevant.
The Proposal: The Urban Learning Park
While we believe it will have many principals that should be integrated into both existing and new schools, this project makes the most of an up and coming opportunity in urban centres. Our project, based in central Auckland, acts as a first prototype for this kind of building. It is imagined that every centre would be slightly different, according to the local area's needs.
Our project proposes to use the following mechanisms to achieve its aims:
Adaptive reuse of a soon to be obsolete car parking building, due to the increasing level of public transport in central city areas and incoming technology, ‘driverless cars’, means that there is an existing building typology that offers a great opportunity for a new type of public institution. This building would bring together key aspects of a library, a gallery, a cultural centre and urban park in central city locations.
Central carparking buildings offer many opportunities as they are well located, usually near key public amenities and they offer a regular grid and flat or ramped surfaces which are good for accessibility, augmented reality, projection and display. Structurally, these buildings are very strong, designed to hold many cars. (Contemporary art can often require very strong structures). The building would be naturally ventilated and lit.
The base building of the car park offers an open and inclusive public building that offers accessibility on many levels: Openness from the outside to the inside providing no barriers to users, full and inclusive access throughout the building for all users including wheelchairs and prams, access to the latest technology and learning games for people from all walks of life. It would also offer a number of keys spaces such as 'community concession cubicles' as well as free access to professionals such as lawyers and advisors.
REFLECTIVE LEARNING AND RELAXATION
To help combat ignorance, the roof space offers an international garden and outdoor cinema showing international films, with subtitles. Basic language skills can be learnt and practiced in each regional zone. These connect to a series of international food stalls, run by immigrants and refugees, where one can practice their newly acquired language skills with the staff as well as hear stories from their homelands. The selection of countries on display may change from time to time and will be generally based on countries where the incoming immigrants and refugees to the region have come from.
ACTIVE AND EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
Providing opportunities to be active is a core part of this project. It is clear that being active is not only good for physical well-being but your mental well-being too. The upper floors are linked together with an adventurous learning track, surrounded by dynamic content screens and interactive problem solving activities. It is imagined that augmented reality devices will really bring this space alive, to reach its full potential.
Progressive Education and Experiential Learning:
- progressive education values experience over the memorisation and regurgitation of facts, teaching children how to think rather than what to think
- progressive education encourages hands-on approaches to learning, enhancing their engagement and providing them with an understanding of the task at hand in an effort to deal with real world situations.
- teamwork, critical thinking, imagination and creativity, and the ability to explore issues independently are all focused on in experiential learning
- rather than the model which places a teacher at the front of the room, this model uses such characters as facilitators in encouragement to analyse and question the world around us.
o A round table – the Harkness method
o Those who are shy or ‘below average’ feel encouraged to speak up and may be constantly observed in terms of their strengths and difficulties
- “Progressive schools place high value on teaching children to think for themselves through a process of discovery”
- progressive education is a blend of, and encourages and allows, different learning styles, whether students are visual, kinetic, or auditory learners
o sensory input and stimulation is important in the retention of information
- experiential learning acts as a base skill training for many real world contexts, yet is not limited to such an apprenticeship. It also offers critical thinking about such practices and how to improve upon them
- the excitement about tasks which are engaging encourage fuller participation and result in a greater self-assessment and reflection, later resulting in new actions taken based in experience
- learning is a cycle
- 10% of what we read
- 20% of what we hear
- 30% of what we see
- 40% of what we see & hear
- 70% of what we say
- 90% of what we say & do
Games used for learning:
- rewards are crucial for motivation – mastery is a rewards; ‘players’ are driven to repeatedly practice in a game until mastery is achieved
- random elements added to rewards increases motivation
- games engage the entire brain and allow you to learn ‘effortlessly’
- storyline games are more emerging and engaging
- play teaches survival skills, coordination, and social interaction skills at a young age
“The subject-matter of education consists of bodies of information and skills that have been worked out in the past; therefore, the chief business of the school is to transmit them to a new generation.”
What is the impact of this proposal on both education and beyond?
The barrier free learning park offers the opportunity for people of all ages to learn, play and learn to love learning. Sparking curiosity is an essential ingredient for learning.
Increasing digital literacy across the population can help to decrease ignorance & increase tolerance in society. It also allows people from lower socio-economic groups free and unfettered access to the latest technology and information available to develop the necessary skills to help both themselves and their family.
Offering child supervision services provides an opportunity for parents or caregivers, with young children, the ability to remain intellectually and socially active through learning opportunities, networking or simply time to themselves to recover from the demanding role of parenthood.
The adventurous and physically focused learning strategy targets health issues, both physical and mental, related to increasingly sedentary lifestyles. As Greek Philosopher Aristotle stated “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all,” Aristotle, founded a 'Peripatetic school' that involved teaching and learning while walking.
“The World economy no longer pays you for what you know. Google knows everything. The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know.” Andrea Schleicher – Director for Education and Skills (OECD).
Therefore, problem solving focused learning allows people the ability to develop their ability to ‘think laterally’ and adapt more easily to inevitable change.
While we see digital learning games as a valid way of learning in its own right, we believe that gaming can now be integrated as a physical learning experience using Augmented Reality. Not only could this make learning fun and motivational, it could also create a more integrated way of learning and testing application of knowledge through using a mixture of skills and focusing on problem solving. Look out ‘Survivor-esque’ gameshows, here we come!
Home design, despite technological advances, hasn't changed a lot over the last century. New automation technologies are starting to come in but we think that things could potentially change in a much more radical way, if we combined design and technologically together in a much more seamless fashion. Both the types of appliances and types of spaces found in a home will change in the near future.
EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL THERAPY - THE FUTURE OF THE BEDROOM AND BATHROOM
Particularly for those living busy lives in urban environments, we believe that we may soon sleep in therapy pods that can respond to both your physical and emotional needs. Artificial intelligence can be used to recognise patterns in your physical and mental wellbeing to help to keep you in good health. Already we are seeing trends where the ensuite (toilet excluded) is starting to blend in with the bedroom, which is common particularly in hotels. It is possible that a bathing function may even become combined with the bed function to provide a wider range of therapy options. For new builds, these functions may be built into the space. For existing homes, an 'immersive' sleeping pod could be bought as a standalone item which could be an all in one device, as shown below, or an evolving series of devices working together. We imagine that it could be operated on an 'app' basis where one can purchase an increasing range of programming options.
This project has been published in ELLE Magazine, New Zealand Herald, New Zealand Architecture Magazine and discussed on Radio NZ and in an up and coming documentary for TVNZ.
This video shows a current summary of Atelier Aitken's School of the Future Research Project.
We are excited to be carrying our next research project in partnership with expert synthetic Biologist, Dr Svetlana Boycheva.
The exhibition embodies the realm of unfolding possibilities where intelligence is embedded into architecture and ultimately how we will live our lives in the future. Explore how technological developments like artificial intelligence and augmented reality will come together to change the way we live.
Brought to you by AGM Publishing - ArchitectureNow, Panuku and the NZ Institute of Architects: this research project will be exhibited across the six silos at Silo 6, Wynyard Quarter for an Exhibition at the New Zealand Festival of Architecture from 7 - 17th September 2017. We will be working with Monmouth Studio to create the components and Buildmedia's new virtual reality programme, Realspace.
Opening event: Friday 15th September - 5.30pm - 8.30pm
Unité dans la diversité (United in our diversity) We have created a conceptual proposal, in reaction to the current refugee crisis as well as the recent events in the USA. We are seeking to create a tower for peace, for tolerance, for friendship, for love, for nostalgia, for remembrance, for nurture and for growth..
a tower for refugees
Approximately 60% of refugees live in cities, not camps….in cities, refugees often face hard conditions and have their basic rights denied. Depending on what country they have re-settled in, there can be many barriers that they face in starting a new life. We see this tower as a typology that could be adapted and located in other cities around the world. The landscapes may be different and the overall size of the building too but the general programme remains similar in nature.
a tower for humanity – for peace and unity
We see this tower as a symbolic of the natural altruistic nature of people… a shared desire for peace and happiness… a sense of unity to ease the sense of fear… we would like it to be symbolically located near Trump’s tower in opposition to his fear mongering and instead spread a message of acceptance, tolerance, humanity and love.
a tower for nostalgia for lost homelands
We want to create a place where displaced persons, refugees, may come to remember their homeland, before it became war torn and terrifying. We wish to create beautiful open landscapes where they can come to relax, pray, communicate with their family in other places around the world. The landscape zones would have free wi-fi and communication facilities as well as commercial kitchen facilities and so on sensitively integrated for market days. Their may be memorial elements integrated here also.
a tower for awareness and remembrance
The tower hopes to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and not only raise money for refugees worldwide but also to increase our tolerance and acceptance of diversity. For this tower, located in New York, the public may take the express elevator to the top where there is an interactive signal tower that digitally shows data such as the movement of refugees worldwide. The public can also input their own messages here. There will be a museum space for visitors to see what is happening in the various conflict zones worldwide and also regarding the movement and state of refuges worldwide. The landscapes for this proposed tower have been digitally extracted from actual landscapes from the countries where the highest number of refugees come to the United States of America. Visitors to the tower will be able to buy authentic wares and food from the shops and markets run by the refugees.
a tower for education and livelihood
This tower will be a place where refugees can learn new skills for their new home. We also hope to teach refugees skills, such as coding and teaching skills to enable them to help create programmes to educate refugees in developing countries in ways that are relevant to them. Within the tower we hope to create profitable employment for refugees, as a start up job when they first come to the country such as cooking and selling food at the markets. Immersive language training will be freely available along with translation services. There will also be a manufacturing part, with the latest technology such as 3d printers where they can produce wares to be sold. It is hoped that these towers become both enjoyable and profitable enterprises both to run the facility and also help provide funding resettlement costs for refugees into their neighbouring countries – which is often the better option.
a tower for the future – sustainability and technology
Technology is developing so rapidly there are so many creative ways one can use it in the built environment. We propose that the large open spaces will bring in natural ventilation to each zone of the building as well as harness energy through solar cells integrated into the open landscapes and sections of the facade.
Visually, the general façade pattern has been conceptually extracted from the strata from the refugee’s homelands. We propose that up close, this strata will actually be created from homeland images. The main façade will have a fine screen made of moveable metal panels that open and close to create shading as required. There would be a library of imagery, related to the refugee homelands, that will be selected automatically in a ‘pixelated’ format. The image selected will depend on the amount of shading required. The reflective nature of the panels means that the solid aspects of the building will also reflect the surroundings of their location, connecting it to the new place, while the voids will clearly represent the originating homelands.
Our latest research project for our studio is exploring the future of learning environments and how this may look with an integrated approach between design, technology and pedagogy.
It is empirically evident that the reason for the hierarchical human dominance across the planet has been a result of our intelligence and our fundamental ability to pass on knowledge from one generation to another. Thus education is the premise for our progression as a society, civilisation and species.
Architecture is a facilitator for education and has historically been an allegorical codex of how knowledge is transferred in each society. It is therefore the responsibility of architecture to accommodate for todays changes and also instigate a way for new knowledge of education to be manifested in a physical form.
In education curriculum, we are seeing a trend towards more collaborative and topic focused learning and less focus on individual subjects. There are many changes in teaching and learning technologies and methodologies that are yet to be addressed as a physical and spatial concept. While the world continues to evolve at an accelerating rate, the majority of schools still have classrooms based on the convectional ideal of an enclosed box with one teacher and rows of students – a system that is generations old.
While institutional spatial design is slowly changing, including the integration of open space learning and technology, we believe that educational facilities need to start addressing these changes more holistically and explore what their role may be in the future. The traditional school model may become out of date soon, particularly for older children. A possible scenario for older children is that they may become increasingly mobile, with a mixture of online learning and in-situ learning. The introduction of self-driving vehicles may become a game changer for them, where they may have a mobile classroom space (bus) that takes them to various places for ‘insitu’ learning depending on what they are learning, such as a robotics factory and so on. The mobile classroom becomes their main space for social interaction with classmates and concentrated time with their teacher.
As for younger children, we still see the importance of having a ‘physical’ centre of learning, with the attentive care of teachers, to address areas that are difficult to be developed through technology and at home such as social development, physical development, cultural development and the learning of basic skills. Some students of course will continue to learn better with more traditional methods of teaching and learning, which should still be offered.
The environmental impact is of paramount importance to this whole concept. The future school needs to be an excellent role model to future generations both through its design and the environmental information that is disseminates to the children. The space would largely be solar powered (cells on the roof). As a ‘glasshouse’ type structure with both internal and external spaces, it is a natural light filled space that can manage its internal temperature through natural ventilation and shading. Tracking sensors in the ground plane may allow shade activated in the roof plane, in relation to the sun's position and where there is movement on the ground plane. We see a mixture of inflatable structures and acoustic/thermal curtains as creating the smaller, more traditional teaching spaces as well as assisting with temperature regulation when needed. The model would need to be adapted for different climates and to work with locally sourced materials, eg bamboo structures. In terms of plants, the school would be planted with both local vegetation and also crops. Children would be able to track, digitally, their environmental statistics for their school, their city at large, their country and the world. The children are responsible for helping maintain their environment and there will be coveted local, national and global environmental prizes based on this.
Spatial design for schools should enhance and aid the education process by reflecting developments in both pedagogy and technology. Ultimately we need a new building typology that interacts with the children in a way that current schools are failing to do. As Aristotle stated “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all,” and architecture has a great responsibility in educating the heart through the creation and manipulation of space. Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, born in 384 BC founded a 'Peripatetic school' that involved teaching and learning while walking.
An important element for our proposed model for a future learning environment is to make it more interactive and more physical – emphasising the need for movement to create both a healthy mind and healthy body. This also aims to counteract the fact that children now spend more time outside of school passively playing or learning on technological devices. This ‘physical’ element could possibly be reciprocated virtually for children with restricted mobility.
Play can serve as a powerful matrix of learning in education. Research has proven that children’s pretend play can promote both cognitive development and the development of dimensions of social competence. Current misunderstandings of the pertinence of play, mixed with academic pressures, have lead to schooling systems turning a blind eye to this fundamental part of child development. Therefore it is often disregarded that children may need guidance from adults for play because of the nature of play being a natural childhood activity. Creating space that allows for the freedom that one finds in open fields, such as a park or a forest, is important. Thus as a new pedagogy comes into being, that understands this need for play and open space, architecture must therefore adhere and accommodate for these changes. Spaces should be designed in a way that they are open and flexible, whimsical and interactive. We must no longer lock children in the boxes we call classrooms and only forcefully educate their minds but open their hearts to education through a playscape, a synthetic park, and a mindful maze.
While we see digital learning games as a valid way of learning in its own right, we believe that gaming concepts should be integrated into the future school's teaching and learning methodologies as a physical experience. Not only could this make learning fun and motivational, it could also create a more integrated way of learning and testing through using a mixture of skills and focusing on problem solving. This could work well with a curriculum that is based on a 'topic' learning structure, similar to what is proposed in Finland. Problem solving television game shows such as 'Survivor' and the ‘Krypton factor’ could become part of the mainstream learning process. The games and activities could be varied according to the topic at hand, the desired skills to be learnt and the level. Children could continue to play these learning games and build up their scores and hence competencies in specific areas. Personality and career profiling could also be used at a later stage so that children can increase their competencies in the necessary areas.
Culturally, as a flexible model that can be adapted, both physically and virtually to its locale, it can be a cultural hub that reflects the culture of its inhabitants as well as allowing children to easily visit and interact with other cultures within their school, using new technologies.
As architects, we are seeing a trend for the design brief for public projects to become increasingly similar, regardless of the type of public institution, albeit an art gallery, a museum, a library, a school and so on. It is possible that to some extent, many of these institutions will blend together as one. In Europe, we are already seeing the grouping of public facilities together to create economical and environmental efficiencies and to reflect their increasingly shared aims. Some institutions will become obsolete and others will need to renew their purpose and role in our future society. We see this proposal as a flexible model that can be used to modify existing schools and also to create new ones, whether they be temporary or permanent.
In regards to the idea that our world could become fully digitised and heavily reliant on virtual technologies, we believe that humans will continue to be nostalgic for the past. In the future, they will still, at times, want to write with an actual pen on paper and read an actual paperback book under a tree. Through design exercises at architecture school, where students continually cross backwards and forwards between digital technologies and analogue methodologies, we can still see validity in both approaches, which develop different skills and create different outcomes. We believe that the same will continue to apply to learning in general. We don't believe that we will ever live in a world where people are completely immersed in new technology, in so-called 'futuristic' spaces that are digitised and created fully out of synthetic materials. Humans need face to face interaction with one another of which neuroscientists have studied this need extensively. They need to be in spaces that make them feel good with fresh air, natural light and comfortable temperatures.
One difficulty that we see with trying to implement innovation in the institutional sector is that too often the brief is too rigid and doesn’t allow enough room for experimentation within the built form. The main issue however is that there needs to be a much closer relationship between designers and the educators in charge of the education curriculum so that the two can work in synergy together in leading us to the future.
Architecture could be the leader in this movement. Educational spaces of the future should be designed in a way that seamlessly accommodates technology, play and nature. Constructions should become an altruistic means to educate our children through the formation of spaces that are adapting to the nature of our current and future epochs. We must therefore speculate what these spaces may look like, and understand that these new pedagogical environments are already possible.
Core team: Jo Aitken, Madumal Gunaratna
Before embarking on a journey to imagine what a school of the future may look like, first we wanted to explore human needs and how education, in partnership with school design, could address this?
Please refer to next post for further development and information.
We are very passionate about discovering and exploring new technologies and ideas that contribute to making our lives and cities more enjoyable, functional and sustainable. We are particularly interested in the intersection between design and technology, where we are seeing a new paradigm in the way that people are living. As architects, urban designers and future visionaries, we need to think carefully about how people will be living, playing, learning and working in the future. We have recently decided to start publishing some of our findings and work in progress.
Some of our current topics of interest are:
1. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Technologies: How can we make the most of mixed reality / virtual world technologies and use it successfully as a design tool.
It is easy to see how this technology can be useful in terms of visualisation but how can we make it more useful as a design tool or interactive entertainment device. One of the main barriers to transitioning to 3d workflow is its useability and control systems. We see developing a universal 3d language, that can be adapted for each application, as a key step to making this work. If we designers are then able to move into an actual, off the screen, 3d workflow then we need to think about what our design spaces / studios might look like. Other issues then arise such as ergonomics of 3D workflow - will we get RSI or will being more physically active have a positive influence on our health and well being? It is possible that we could also move backwards and use real world tools in the 3d workflow process, eg why not pick up an actual paint can (obviously one that is empty and made for the application) and spray the holographic model when you want to change the colour.
If we want to use these technologies in a more mainstream, day to day manner, the same challenge that exists with other 'wearable technology' exists. (Image above shows Microsoft's Hololens). Is it truly wearable? Is it too heavy? Does the device fit our identity? Can we power it for long enough? Will there be privacy issues?
2. De-isolating parents by providing solutions to help balance parenthood, career and socialising. While women have progressed a lot in the last 50 years, support systems and facilities that allow new mothers, or fathers in some cases, to balance both parenthood and a career are still lagging behind. Children used to be brought up in a more communal 'village' scenario and now young parents are more isolated. One such solution is shown here, in Paris, where you are able to bring your baby along to this co-working creche.
3. Mobile working and Co-working - As frequent travellers who find ourselves working in all sorts of interesting places, we are big supporters of mobile working. We support initiatives such as co-working spaces and remote abroad programmes to combat issues of isolation that come with this new, flexible way of working. We would like to see a more globalised approach allowing people the option to have global memberships to workspaces worldwide. Ideally this would come with global / dual location memberships to schools, apartments and healthcare to allow families - particularly where the parents come from different countries - to share their time between the different places and allow their children to grow up with their families in different places, multi-lingual and better understanding their mixed identities.
4. Exploring the future of learning environments and how this may look with an integrated approach between design, technology and pedagogy. We see a move towards Open, flexible, playscapes that are environmentally focused and responsive to the rapidly changing needs of learning and technological developments.