Magazine article School Arts

Building Ideas with the Junior High

Magazine article School Arts

Building Ideas with the Junior High

Article excerpt

Building ideas with the junior high

I WAS APPREHENSIVE WHEN I FIRST introduced the problem of designing future habitats to my junior high school students. Our town is currently experiencing a building boom-large expensive dwellings, as well as lower income condominiums. I very soon discovered that my students were indeed aware and interested in the architecture around them.

We began by focusing on specific neighborhoods in towns; students were anxious to analyze at length these manmade environments. We discussed solar homes, the impact on nature, basic design and overall structure. Students were asked to bring to class relevant articles about subdivisions of vacant land, access to public roads, overextending water supplies, and other pertinent land-use issues reported in the local paper. They also scanned real estate sections of newspapers, and clipped and shared architectural plans.

Next, we talked about current trends, using our clippings as a springboard for our own ideas. Would we add more wood, stone, glass or steel? How could we make our designs unique? Could we adapt our designs to become an integral part of a specific space? Can we design for energy efficiency?

I had recently visited Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water" in Pennsylvania. I showed students photographs of this architectural masterpiece and distributed notes on Wright's other works and his theories of "form follows function." We discussed the compatability with environment and the variety of new materials used by this master architect. …

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