Changing the education to change the city (I) | Stepienybarno

With the present article we initiate one small trilogy revising that we understand, from Stepienybarno, that they are some keys inside the world of the education and the buildings educations, and that, in turn, can turn out to be determinants at the moment of having healthier and inhabitable cities. For it, we will drift apart the sufficient thing, in the time and in the space, to try to have a global vision of the topic in question.

This way, the today entry is the first part of the article that we have written in the matter and, in her, we will centre on a period that goes from beginning of 20th century until the eighties.

In the second part of the same one, we will get squarely into our contemporaneousness, analyzing new trends since it can be the edupunk or expanded education.

We hope that our contribution is of your interest and, since always, wait for your comments in the matter.

Eugène Beaudouin - Marcel Lods
Eugène Beaudouin – Marcel Lods

One of our thinkers of reference, Claudio Naranjo, published, in year 2004, an advisable book under the title, “Changing the education to change the world” and that serves us to give title to the present post. In him it defends that much more important than the own architecture of the classrooms or, even, the pedagogic current systems, they are the teachers and teachers who give the classes. According to the Chilean psychiatrist, we live in a sick company, in that the persons us is “off-centre one” and removed from our real essence.

Cambiar la educación para cambiar el mundo. Claudio Naranjo
Changing the education to change the world. Claudio Naranjo

Improving in the knowledge of one itself and to evolve as persons is an indispensable requirement in order that those who are the facilitators of the knowledge could transmit values, wisdom and serenity to his young wards.

This way, they are the persons and neither the things nor the methods those who are to put in the first plane in order that the education evolves and, in consequence, this injured company has major options to improve in a nearby future.

In turn, bringing the topic over to more architectural territories, it was Louis Kahn who was telling that the first school did not take place inside four walls, but,

It began with a man under a tree, a man who did not know that he was a teacher, and that put to discuss of what he had understood with different some, that they did not know that they were students.

Equally, Kahn insists that the problem of the schools is that they have lost the north and have forgotten this essence with which they arose. Therefore, it comments that, it is indispensable to return to take again the contact with the nature to humanize our centers of education.

Escuelas al aire libre
Outdoors schools

So, if we rewind in the time, and we go away at the beginning of last century, just after the First World war, in Germany we will find several examples in which they began to raise the topic of a very different way. At any one time, they asked which would be the best way of curing the hundreds of sick children who were populating his damaged cities. The response, for the times that were running it was totally revolutionary: to create centers in full nature in which thanks to the contact with the water, the vegetation and, specially, with the Sun they were improving small these of his diseases.

Of this form, in parallel to the health, new methods of education appeared with called “Schools outdoors”; the first germ of what would be one of the central topics in the evolution of the schools of the 20th century.

“Instituto Escuela” de Armiches y Domínguez, 1935
“Institute school” by Armiches and Domínguez, 1935

Curiously, they were not the big teachers of the modern architecture the first ones in “translating” these ideas of naturalistic air into a more academic architecture. Actually, first one of the projects in which the innovative technology of the steel and the glass was making possible to fulfill the dreams of an architecture in which the natural light was happening to be the absolute protagonist of the space was, in 1935, the building of the “Institute School” of the pair of architects of Madrid Armiches y Domínguez.

This project, since you can see in the images that we publish later, bets for a series of mobile panels that give to the classrooms a flexibility till then unthinkable. In turn, the crossed ventilation and double lighting is made possible by a section that guarantees a homogeneous light in the whole classroom (going forward 15 years to Arne Jacobsen’s famous section). This way, before this communion between culture and education and a technology to the service of the company, it begins the new one for the architecture of the 20th century.

Escuela Munkegård‎ de Arne Jacobsen, 1951.
Munkegård‎ schools by Arne Jacobsen, 1951.

This worry for the binomial supported education – nature, that we were commenting on lines more above, was, equally, one of the big challenges of the international style. They were different of his members, as Taut or Duiker, which dared to give form to an architecture sensitive to these new needs, but he was, probably, Richard Neutra one of that more he was precise with his offers, specially with his “Corona School”, as far back as the early 1935.

The architect of Austrian origin, but bought property in The United States, was capable of inventing a few classrooms in that, as in the “Institute School”, beside providing lighting and crossed ventilation, the limits were diluted between the interior and the exterior.

Corona School de Richard Neutra
Corona School by Richard Neutra

In the same line, in France several schools arose as École de plein-air, Suresnes by the architects Eugène Beaudouin and Marcel Lods. Every class was a small immersed pavilion in a great park with three of his completely glazed sides and what was more important with the possibility of being opened completely for the landscape managing, as Neutral, to have an interior space with a character marcadamente exterior. In turn, in this offer one was giving a return of nut more and a new star was joining for the configuration of the exterior space: the swimming pool.

Come to this point, it is important to remember that in this epoch the majority of the houses did not have bathroom, for what, the water, in this case, beside serving as element catalyst of the most playful activities was the key piece for the improvement of the health of these school young persons. Also, the incorporation of less rigid activities was doing that the students were not in the same position hour after hour, with the serious problems that it was causing (for example, deformations in the vertebral column). This way, again, the health and the education were giving themselves the hand in this first intense third of 20th century.

École de plein-air, Suresnes _ 1932-1935, Eugène Beaudouin et Marcel Lods
École de plein-air, Suresnes _ 1932-1935, Eugène Beaudouin et Marcel Lods

But if we reach the half of last century, we can see how Le Corbusier was managing to raise his famous Unité de Marsella, giving it forms many of his ideal ones and deeper intuitions. It was united of a great step in the formalization of this new architecture that there was doing of the roof one of his leitmotiv of the project.

And for whom did it reserve this valued space? So, really, for the children and girls, creating a classroom of education that was leading to a perfect space of game (and vice versa), with the Sun and the sky as ceiling, which, still today, continues assets and in mint condition of conservation.

Jardín de infancia en la Unité de Marsella de Le Corbusier,1952.
Infant school in the Unité in Marsella by Le Corbusier,1952.

This way, they continued appearing new offers in which the infantile world began to occupy an absolute and new situation of privilege. Of between many possible examples, we rescue the very well-known ones, but not for it sufficiently recognized, playgrounds of Aldo van Eyck that the happiness and the life were making be reborn of between the socavones of the hatred and the war.

In turn, the Dutch architect was raising interesting questions I half-close to the collective, urban or community space that, still today, they are of absolute force.

Playgrounds de Aldo van Eyck
Playgrounds de Aldo van Eyck

“The projects must demonstrate, in architectural terms, the royal desire to overcome the polarities that really do not exist: individual – group, material – emotional, divides everything, permanency – change, interior – exterior. They are neither dualities, nor polarities. This fact must be expressed in any planning”. 

Aldo van Eyck

Escuela de Aldo van Eyck
School by Aldo van Eyck

Other one of the topics that seem to us to be fundamental is the narrow relation that has to (or it had to) exist between the advances of the pedagogy and his correlation with the changes in the building projects educations. In this respect, the school that we saw of Richard Neutra was one of the pioneers being sensitive to the methods of Maria Montessori‘s education. Equally, in our old Europe, he is Herman Hertzberger better who assimilates the expositions of the educator and Italian psychologist, giving form to an education freer much.

Escuela Montessori, Delf, Herman Hertzberger, 1960
Montessori School, Delf, Herman Hertzberger, 1960

According to Montessori, the smallest they learn first from the unconscious one then to spend the learned to the conscious one; for it they have to have “freedom of choice in a prepared environment” where they could be unrolled to his whim, feeling always sure and covered.

This way, the classrooms have to be spacious, luminous and to allow different possibilities to arrange the furniture. For it, it is nice to see as Hertzberger plays with different spaces inside the classes, into which the own soil re-gets lodging a series of buckets that, once extracted, turn into the furniture of the classroom. In turn, in his schools one gives special importance to the community space for what it leaves the traditional one and repeated up to the satiety organization “in comb” for a central core that it does of polyvalent room and to the one that all the classrooms of the school give.

Of this form, in the new heart of the school with double and, enclosed, triple height there give themselves appointment children of different ages who can realize activities jointly of more creative character as theatre or music. Another aspect that stands out in the work of the Dutch architect, is the care with which he designs the exterior space, arranging zones without a fixed use but that end up by being sand-dealers, gardens, zones of game or of rest.

Escuela Apollo, Herman Hertzberger, 1980.
Apollo School, Herman Hertzberger, 1980.

And we could not finish this first part of the article, without bringing to the first plane the great Francesco Tonucci. This Italian educational psychologist has led an authentic revolution in the Italian education and of half a world. Equally, with his famous book “The city of the children”, Tonucci, made us understand that when the cities are thought in order that children and other sectors, in general, more disadvantaged by our “real-estate urbanism” go on to the first plane, alone at the time, our cities will start stopping being sick.

In turn, Tonucci, follows many of Maria Montessori‘s plans or other alternative schools since it can be the method Waldorf, born of the unmarriageable creative mind of the versatile Rudolf Steiner. These schools, arisen in 1917 and that have come even our days, plead, again, for a more personalized, freer education, with a direct contact of the student with the nature and where the natural evolution of the child is respected.

La ciudad de los niños. Tonucci
The city of the children. Tonucci

The above mentioned thing and already you know that in our next article we will continue this exciting topic, with the intention of knocking down all kinds of physical walls and to get squarely into the miles of possibilities that an education can offer to us hibridada between the digital thing and the analogical thing.

To be continued…

Stepienybarno_Agnieszka Stepien y Lorenzo Barnó, architects
Estella, August 2017


Naranjo, Claudio. Cambiar la educación para cambiar el mundo.

–Kahn, Louis. Obras y proyectos.

–Burgos, Francisco. La arquitectura del aula.

Arne Jacobsen: edificios públicos.

Richard Neutra, 1892-1970.

– Arquitectura Viva _ número 78 /126.

Le Corbusier, Obra completa.

Aldo van Eyck, parques de juego en Amsterdam (1947-1971).


Pedagogía Waldorf


Article published originally in the Platform of La Ciudad Viva.

Stepienybarno está formado por Agnieszka Stepien y Lorenzo Barnó, ambos arquitectos y formados en temas de Identidad Digital y Comunicación online. Desde el 2004 tenemos nuestro propio estudio de arquitectura, ubicado en un pequeño pueblo de Navarra, Estella, y ambos estamos embarcados en nuestras tesis doctorales. A su vez, colaboramos con otros profesionales tanto del ámbito de la arquitectura, sostenibilidad y comunicación online. Vivir en Estella nos da la tranquilidad necesaria para poder encarar el día a día con energía y la red nos posibilita contactar con un mundo maravilloso que de otra forma hubiera sido imposible.

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