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Teresa McWalters

Teresa McWalters

New York, NY, US

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Education Unbound

Graduate Thesis Project, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, May 2012

This project challenges the notion of the ocularcentric, authority-driven paradigm of the 20th century and seeks to authorize a space of learning that supports a new paradigm of the equality of the senses, supporting current findings in neuroscience that indicate an intimate connection between sensory perception and the early stages cognitive development. 

The program is a grammar school developed around a unique curriculum based of on age-specific learning development and social needs.  It borrows some of the democratic design merits of the "Open School Movement" of the 1960s, while recognizing the need for privacy and autonomy in childhood development, to create a non-differentiated common learning landscape with key locations of enclosure and withdrawal.  

The architecture establishes a hierarchy of space to define different periods of learning throughout the day. It uses the unique spatial proximity's that occur between columnar forms as well as shifting floor plates to create "soft boundaries" for less focuses learning, while concealing dedicated, smaller group learning, within forms that puncture the floor plates to provide classrooms, workshops, and studios.  Yet another soft boundary between the city outside and the learning space inside creates a visual connection that is symbolic of the continued learning cycle that exists beyond the physical limits of the school. 

Through the emphasis on natural phenomenon - the interactions of sound in response to material and space, and light in relation to form - the building acts as a stage to showcase evidence of the passage of time and to engage the sensory intelligence of the subject, not as a passive observer but an active participant in his or her immediate environment.  

 
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Status: School Project

 

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