School of Originals isn’t just a building. For our building to exist, we had to redesign a whole new education pedagogy. The system is as important as the building itself – they work together. “Architecture can have a profound effect on the system – the pedagogy – to influence it in many ways. However, as designers, we can use our creative minds to extend beyond the building and design a completely new system to allow the building to thrive”. Founding Director of @hyperarchitects, Beau Avedissian, sets the bar with new typologies for educational design, with School of Originals winning the FACS Livable Spaces Prize in 2019.
The School of Originals sets itself apart from any other school. It’s different and inclusive. The current education system is a dated “one size fits all” factory scheme of education to train students to become academics, and not equip them for the real world. Students are punished if they rebel, procrastinate or fail. The School of Originals aims to solve this problem by embracing rebellion, procrastination and failure, as its these qualities that create Original thinkers who are creative innovators. Designing a school was a competition. We challenged the idea of a competition building to be built, designing a school that has the built potential but to be more theoretical. Allowing us to speak out our position, an idea to resonate and push the architectural and educational disciplines. The pedagogical themes break up the school into three zones: Instruction zones; Procrastination zones; Production zones. Although one cannot be forced to procrastinate, so these zones act as intensities, where by the space is designed to intensify that particular mode of thinking, with particular design strategies in place.
The first zone, instruction zone. Rebellion here implies a sense of thinking outside the box and going against the grain. Rebellion is acting in the Instruction zones that are spaces to intensify divergent thinking. Students begin here, where they take their own creative stance with support by tutors who encourages them to challenge or question this norm. Spatially, there are many devices that attract divergent thinking, such as Newton’s apples – a giant apple that students escape from the chaos and enter a realm of intense thinking. The distinguishable form encourages the students to think divergently.
People have preferred working conditions where they feel thermally comfortable. Thermal sensation has a direct relationship to efficiency and the ability to learn and be productive. We redesigned a new type of space called ‘hyper space’ which allows for more people to feel thermally comfortable, through varying climatic conditions, making the space more inclusive for more efficient learning. An example of this space is shown topographically through the undulating floor plates that separates the instruction spaces. The floor plates create different climates to allow students to situate in a climate that makes them feel comfortable and exercise efficient learning. Hills are also created that divides spaces for students that prefer intimate learning or group learning.
Immediately after the instruction zone, students escape to the second zone, a space of procrastination for a short time. Procrastination zones are spaces to intensify distractions. Students are encouraged to procrastinate. It’s a space that allows the students to dwell subconsciously on what was previously taken in consciously by distracting the mind enabling creative ideas to surface. There are various spaces that encourage procrastination such as the ropes of insanity – a space for physical procrastination. The final zone, production zone. Each student undertakes a project over the course of a year and because of its complexity makes it impossible to complete. For example, it could be a student that is passionate about art coming up with an artwork that cures world hunger. Curricular activities revolving around the project achieving heuristic learning. Original thinkers have many failures before success. Since the project is long term and impossible, students can test ideas where failure is encouraged through iterations, and one may be an original idea. Production zones are spaces to intensify the freedom to fail. Students are conditioned to accept failure as a learning strategy with projects that are showcased for other students and public to see. However, a failure to one student may be an original idea to another student. Failure leads to the original idea. Failure is showcased within the floor plates. The open floor plates with the dedicated glass huts allow for students to constantly gaze at other students working in different disciplines fostering inspiration and inter-disciplinary learning. These huts are adaptable to function as a gallery to showcase failure, with the students inside them act as a real time performance of failure. The space can also be hired by creative professionals to use, also providing inspiration and business opportunities for up-and-coming students. Cores are not only structural, they centralise all the services so that for each discipline working in the production zones can be near one another. They also act conceptually as these towers of failure. The cores also allow designing for redundancy. This notion of incompleteness that is embedded in the pedagogy is transferred to the nature of the building itself. We understand school populations fluctuates, we can accommodate and adapt through this idea of an incomplete school. This is an economic strategy as land size becomes more expensive, the cores allow for vertical extensions.