A New Paradigm for Learning Environment
Fu, Hiu Yin
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The majority of people in Hong Kong do not concern with the built environment due to the celebration of materialism and poor education system. Arts education has never been considered as a core subject by students, parents, teachers and the society. Worse still, there is no architecture and design training in primary school and limited coverage in secondary school. Lack of architecture and design training has resulted in lack of creativity, critical thinking skill, aestheticism, and awareness of our own living environment. On the contrary, Finland leads the world in their education system and lately has devoted to developing an ideal learning environment. As an architect, I may not be able to change the education policy or curriculum, but I believe that architecture can act as a pedagogical tool to arouse the users’ consciousness of spatial quality. This thesis aims to develop a paradigm of school that exemplifies the Finnish learning environment. Same as the learning of music or other art forms, it is better to start architecture and design education from early childhood. Thus this project attempts to design a school of architecture and design for children from the age of 6 to 18. Educators and architects have been reviewing education system and learning environment for decades. On the basis of these studies, I will discuss what kinds of school environment can contribute to children’s creativity and overall performance. Besides, environmental psychology, which is another important factor that affects learning outcomes, will be discussed. As a case study, Arkki - the school of architecture for children and youth in Helsinki was interviewed. The experience of Pihla Meskanen, the director of Arkki, on building learning environment for architecture training was shared; classes were visited to observe how children interact with space. In addition, I will study the holistic solutions in the newly built schools in Finland. As Finland is seeking new visions of learning environment in future, competitions and ongoing future school projects will be analyzed to investigate the innovative approaches. The above studies and researches are the grounds and framework to develop an effective learning environment in the urban context in Hong Kong. Mark Dudek stated that, “New learning environments should reflect the studios aspirations of pupils and teachers.” My goal is to invent an inspiring space which is able to stimulate children’s imagination, provoke personal identity and influence the young generations to appreciate the beauty of surroundings, respect the living environment and be responsible to preserve it.