Our middle school students have teamed up with Hamilton + Aitken Architects to collaborate on a five-week-long project that has two major goals: first and foremost, we want to introduce our young designers to the concepts and practices that make up building and space design; secondly, students are working to generate ideas and input for the renovation of the Creativity Lab here at Lighthouse Community Charter School.
Mentors from the Bay Area architectural firm have been visiting after school classes with design challenges that task students to think about and reconsider the way they understand space. Specifically, our design teams have considered how space is used here in the Creativity Lab, and they are continuously thinking about and discussing strategies for improving the usage of that space with each subsequent challenge.
On the fourth week, prior to beginning models for their final proposals, students toured the Creativity Lab with one mentor roleplaying the part of an elderly woman, and with a 6th grader roleplaying the part of a kindergarten student. They interviewed both as potential users of the Creativity Lab, and their answers offered our student designers insight into the ways in which age, body-size, and even literacy, may have an effect on how a user engages with a particular space or building.
Our students went on to discuss and to brainstorm solutions for one of the biggest challenges we face here in the Creativity Lab: As a making space for students that range from grades K-12, we need solutions that can serve big bodies as well as small. When they broke up into design groups to map out how the Creativity Lab might be redesigned, students continued to talk about ways younger students might find it difficult to work at tables and chairs designed for older people. More than one group started to hash out plans for adjustable furniture, trying to conceptualize how that might be incorporated into the floor plans they were mapping out. Another discussion piece was the use of pictures: how images might help younger makers, still learning to read, to recognize where materials and tools are stored around the Creativity Lab.
We’re still under construction here at the Creativity Lab, but with the help of our middle school design teams, we’re pretty certain things can only get better from here on in. Now all we need to figure out is where the couch will go for the Chill Zone that students have unanimously agreed is a top priority!
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