LEARNING FROM REALITY TV
This thesis formulates design methods for creating strong relations between the school and public spaces. Download the complete research publication: Rethinking the Contemporary Urban School.
This is a critical notion in an age where students increasingly depend on digital devices that allow them to avoid conflict and confrontation in the physical urban environment, while their desire to be seen and validated by ‘others’ through mediated connections increases. The significance of the public institution as a center for information exchange and civic engagement has diminished in favor of new media, which has become a staple at home and is trending increasingly mobile.
While the potential of digital media to proliferate information, construct knowledge, and connect diverse publics is tremendouse, we must still critically conisder its technologies and how they are deployed in contemporary society. The internet allows for diverse information flows and creates opportunities to gather information that is otherwise difficult to obtain. Digital applications, however, leverage user profiles and patterns to help individuals navigate towards similar types of information, which can have the effect of narrowing the field of interest and desire.
While the influence of the civic institution in society, especially the pubic library, has diminished, the school remains a crucial site for the development and maturation of personal and collective identity; although, in the United States, in many instances its design is still based on the agrarian values from which it originated.
Connecting the school to public space creates an opportunity to empower students to take ownership and provide a voice to that space, effectively connecting them to a large collective where they can watch the consequences of that voice physically unfold.
The MacArthur Foundation’s report Living and Learning with New Media: The Digital Youth Project finds that new media allows young people to develop skills for jobs and careers in a way that teachers cannot, suggesting that teachers should not necessarily focus on developing skills, but guiding youth’s participation in public life more generally, which includes social, recreational, and civic engagement. Schools must become interdiscipllinary not only in their curricula, but also in how they engage the community at large. Therefore, the secondary school might be rethought as a new civic insitution which connects to the public more broadly, directs civic engagement, and links the potential public sphere of digital networks to physical space.
Design proposal for a contemporary urban school: student controlled dynamic facade which serves as a voice for the community:
This prototype design for a contemporary urban high school is located on H-Street in Washington DC and attempt to integrate the school with both it local community and the world beyond.