During Architecture Fringe 2016 we invited a group of teachers, educators as well as built environment professional to ask the question: ‘To what extent is the subject of Architecture and the Built Environment explored in schools, and how can this be improved or expanded, to further the links between architecture and the current curriculum in practice?’ 

Workshop Reflection

We created four ‘experiments,’ exploring ideas rather than proposing set teaching methods. The experiments were intentionally chosen to have a diverse range of subject matter, as we were wishing to demonstrate that architecture is not only attached to art and design. The experiments involved activities relating to, or using mindfulness, dance, mapping and the theme of bus stops.  

Our workshop showed a participation and enthusiasm which was inspiring. These were intended to test ideas and dissolve some preconceptions about where the subject of the built environment can be brought into current school subjects. The response from teachers involved was incredibly positive. Each and every experiment undertaken during the workshop was greeted by the participants with surprise, amusement and an understanding of its potential as well as its flexibility. It was clear that the teachers could see the relevance of all the experiment activities to their current school curriculum, across a huge range of subjects. Some teachers were very direct in conveying their sense that, having undertaken this workshop themselves once, they felt greater confidence in themselves for undertaking such a workshop with pupils, without necessarily needing support from any external organisation. 

One of the four experiments, one was created by an invited dance choreographer, Mathew Hawkins. This was designed to investigate ways of experiencing our immediate environment through dance. Words we use to describe building and space can be misconstrued, awkward and often loaded. So, Mathew had the participant touching elbows; making cages with our hands; and hanging instinctive thoughts on objects or buildings around us. Places were marked in our minds through the simple act of pointing. With our humble fingers, we individually started to make friends with the stuff and space that surrounded us: a placed security sign, Calton Hill Observatory, a passing bus, and the light percolating from above. These connections were made in a manner which felt both practical and poetic. The possibilities of this experiment is endless: with the potential to lead into descriptive written work, historic analysis of the found objects or by physically displacing this self-choreographed dance into other places and spaces, so heightening our sensory awareness of the new space and strengthening the memory of the old. 

We would like to give special thanks to Lorna Macdonald, Arts & Creative Learning Team, City of Edinburgh Council, who gave considerable help and support in the engagement of locals school teachers for the event.

Event Co-ordinators:

Andy Law, Reiach and Hall 
Bobby Lee, City of Play
Calum Duncan, Calum Duncan Architects
Clarissa Bee, Artist/Teacher
Eileen Hall, Multi disciplinary artist 
Jake Bee, Artist/Teacher
Jamie Moore, Helen Lucas Architects
Mathew Hawkins, Choreographer
Nicola Mclachlan, Collective Architecture 
Will Cairns, Helen Lucas Architects