Spaces to learn. Architecture and Teaching (I) | Raquel Martínez – Alberto Ruiz

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

Since architects we like to think that the architecture that we generate has a positive incident in the life of the people. Moved to the educational architecture, we would like to believe that a good school (from an architectural point of view) propitiates a better education. That a well raised space, it facilitates and activates the educational labor in the teachers and the learning in the pupils. It is not possible to separate the pedagogic system of the spaces in which this one develops. Though it is true that the human – component both the professorship and the pupils – they are the key element of the functioning of any educational process, the certain thing is that the environment, the spatial conditions, the factors of lighting, acoustics, ventilation or temperature, turn out to be fundamental in the current education.

According to the general expositions of the educational architecture, the functional needs have defined the spaces, in a luck of “form follows to function” hat has provoked that the school typology has been kept almost invariable from his origins. The exposition of the education of unidirectional form, by means of a system of transmission – receipt of information the base of the pedagogy has been – and in some cases it continues being – from the earliest ages. From this point of view, an educational space also unidirectional, type “classroom”, urns out to be ideal. This enclosure, of characteristic it forms rectangular, has been perfected along the history, but his conception rarely has rethought. It has been characterized by means of the directional lighting, has been evolved in the systems of communication, he has been provided with elements of technology but, in his essence, continues working by means of a pulpit faced a listeners’ congregation.

Louis I. Kahn1 as thinking about the educational process affirming that

the school 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”.2

This process of meeting sheltered by a tree, symbol of knowledge, and of discussion between be equal, little has to see with the described exposition previously. Though in any pedagogic procedure the transmission of knowledge turns out to be necessary, this one should not base exclusively on the difference on the quantity of information hoarded by one with regard to others. It is not the aim of this communication to raise the convenience or not of the pedagogic current processes, but it turns out incontestable that these are changing. The question is,

have educational spaces changed to the same pace that these processes?

And if they have done it,

how have they influenced these changes?

It is true that certain type of schools, as some of that we will see later, they are very tied to educational experimental conceptions, which small they have to see with the most traditional, still majority education a today; but also it is true that the natural evolution of this one, it should go tied to new conceptions of the architectural offers, very removed from simple  “boxes” containers of pupilss.

Raquel Martínez and Alberto Ruiz
architects, teachers and investigators
Madrid. march 2014


1 Louis I. Kahn (1901-1974) american architect, also dedicated to the teaching.

2 Mentioned in The Blog of Stepien and Barno. The education according to Louis Kahn.



GARCIA PABLOS, Rodolfo. Construcciones Escolares. Curso organizado por el gobierno español como colaboración al proyecto principal de la UNESCO. Madrid: Dirección General de Enseñanza Primaria, 1962

LANDROVE, Susana, ed. Equipamientos I. Lugares públicos y nuevos programas, 1925-1965. Registro DoCoMoMo Ibérico. Barcelona: Fundación Caja de Arquitectos: Fundación DOCOMOMO ibérico, 2010

BURGOS RUIZ, Francisco. La arquitectura del aula. Nuevas escuelas madrileñas, 1868-1968. Madrid: Ayuntamiento de Madrid. Área de las Artes, 2007

A.C. Documentos de Actividad Contemporánea. nº 9. Primer trimestre de 1933. Barcelona Madrid San Sebastián: G.A.T.E.P.A.C. (Grupo de Arquitectos y Técnicos Españoles para el Progreso de la Arquitectura Contemporánea), 1931-1937

Resources on line:

Stepien y Barno´s blog. La enseñanza según Louis Kahn [on line] April, 2010 [It Consults in July, 2012] Available in web

ALVES GONÇALVES, Polyanna. Herman Hertzberger. Edificios Escolares [on line]. October, 2009, 2010 [It Consults in July, 2012] Available in web

Es Doctor Arquitecto por la ETSAM, compaginando su actividad profesional con la docencia y la investigación en la URJC. Los artículos son un reflejo de la inquietud, reflexión y pensamiento en torno a mi pasión: la arquitectura.

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