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

The impact of the social sciences in the educational spaces after the Second World war

The efforts of reconstruction of the years later to the Second World war, they had one of his big challenges in the endowment of social and community services of the countries most affected by the conflict. In certain way, the need to begin of zero gave the opportunity to restate someone of the initiatory hygienists, interpreted by the architects of the modern movement. The change is important, beyond the functional language with which the educational endowments were appearing. One of the principal critiques to the modern movement centres, already from the first summons of the CIAM1 of postwar period, on the importance of the context, so much socially, since urban or historically, that the architecture had left of side. In this respect, the social sciences – urban psychology, sociology – take a principal paper in the conception of the architecture, and introduce new concepts in the debate. Terms like the “collective space” are going to centralize the offers of the whole new generation of architects who will see in the educational typology a perfect field of experimentation.

Educational theories are rescued, since owed by María Montessori2, that they favour the experimentation of the pupil over the process of acquisition of knowledge. There will break this way, definitively, the concept of traditional classroom to open way to the whole series of polyvalent spaces, of flexible composition, where the furniture happens to be a mobile element that allows different configurations according to the particular needs of the moment. And of fundamental form, the spaces of communication are characterized between the classrooms, which stop being simple corridors of access to the classrooms to turn into places of relation, of interaction, customizable, flexible and functional.

The relation between the classroom and the corridor appears related to the existing one between the house and the street. And the life in existing community in this one moves to the school area. This “collective space” serves besides place of transition between the public thing and the private thing, admits the relation between the pupils, and between these and the teachers, and even it allows the interaction of the parents, who happen to form a part of the “school community”.

School Montessori. Delft. Arq. Herman Hertzberger Planta and image of the interior | Sources: Flickr andArchitectuurstudioHH

Herman Hertzberger applies these concepts in someone of the schools that he designs in Holland in the 60s following the “method Montessori”. The own conception of the plant of Delft’s School gives us an idea of how his utilization is very removed from the traditional concept of education. The characterization of these “intermediate spaces” is solved in cause simply for the particular use of an element of furniture, for the color or for the differences of lighting.

Raquel Martínez and Alberto Ruiz

architects, teachers and investigators

Madrid. april 2014


1 The CIAM, (International Congresses of Modern Architecture), summoned from 1928, there supposed the forum of debate and experimentation of the architects more ligatures to the architecture of the Modern Movement. Disueltos from 1959.

2 Pedagogue of Italian origin, born in 1870, proposed a series of experimental concepts in the field of the education, base of some of the modern theories in the matter.



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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