A new school of thought for Architecture students

24 June 2008

An innovative partnership between the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planing and Cammeray Primary Public School has resulted in unique learning experience for two generations of students.

When the Cammeray School Building Committee met earlier this year to discuss the design of new facilities they decided to approach the Faculty to see if there could be a collaboration that result in a project "designed for student by students." With an emphasis on environmental and sustainable design, this task fell to a cohort of Second-Year Bachelor of Design in Architecture students.

The students were given the task of producing a design that provided the school with models of an environmentally friendly and self-sustaining project while incorporating the needs of primary students space and educative needs. The Architecture students needed to collaborate with all the stake holders including the school students. The Cammeray students were asked what they would do if they were principal as well as to produce posters on what they liked and disliked about the school.

After this consultative process, Year 2/3 students from Cammeray were invited to the Faculty to critique the designs, which turned out to be a tougher assignment than some of the Architecture students imagined. As Cammeray Primary Public School Principal, Ms Christine Taylor, explains "The idea of getting school children with tertiary students has opened up their ideas - I hope at both levels. Primary school children are not afraid to say what they really believe, they're not worried about what other people think, and for the architects to have them as clients was a wonderful learning opportunity."

The Architecture students took away the critique of the school students and showcased their final designs to students and teachers of the school. As the Program Coordinator, Associate Professor Anna Rubbo, pointed out "It was a unique educational project that allowed our students to look at the social and environmental sustainability as well as giving the school kids a chance to learn about architecture and environment sustainability. So it was very much a reciprocal project which will result in an exhibition at the school itself."

Combined with other initiatives such a mini 2020 summit looking at sustainability and the future, this project is particularly exciting collaborative process that Principal Taylor would like to see continue. "From our point of view, the science and technology syllabus is about design and this actually made that part of the syllabus real. They were real, rich learning tasks the children could be involved in and when we asked them "what would you do?" they were actually coming up with realistic, practical things. They were saying this is what we need, we need this sort of learning space, we need musical rooms, we need the playground to be joined so they were actually looking at it in terms of real life problems and they were solving it. Then to have their real life problems and solutions put into a concrete model is amazing an learning opportunity."

The Architecture designs will be displayed at Cammeray in the near future so parents and students and have the opportunity to meet with the Architecture students and see the designs first hand. Principal Taylor is optimistic that other collaborative projects will be undertaken in the future, "We hope so, we would do it again. The students were so engaged, sitting across the table from the architects, one on one and saying 'well, why did you do that? Could you do this and this?' Sometimes I think (criticism) gets educated out of you so I think it's a fantastic experience for both levels of students."

Contact: Jonathan Hulme

Phone: 02 9351 2686