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The Built Environment as a Tool for Education

Whether we are aware of it or not, our environment has a massive impact on us. From our moods and levels of productivity, to our health, the spaces we are in play a big role. We (especially children) learn from the spaces that surround us continuously. At Creative Assemblages we try to apply this motto to all of our projects, especially those related to education and young children.

At Mwito we designed playground equipment for durability, stimulation of different gross and fine motor as well as cognitive and brain development, while having a fun time. The equipment is of a simple and sturdy design made out of recycled and local materials to enhance equilibrium, risk management, coordination, left and right brain development, playfulness, joy and thrill while releasing some steam in a safe way. Only the climbing holds were imported due to lack of secure holds produced in the region.

What is an ideal learning environment?

In the first frame is a photo of a classroom (formal learning environment) in the Kiziba Refugee Camp (Rwanda). The second frame is a photomontage showing proposals by the refugees of Kiziba on how to improve existing formal learning environments. (Photo ©Mapping Refugee Spaces)

We think of the built environment as a learning environment in three main ways: Formal learning environments / Non-formal learning environments / Informal learning environments.

How does the built environment affect learning?

A learning environment represents the physical, social and cultural context in which learning occurs. While it is important to acknowledge the role of the social and cultural contexts in which learning occurs, architects and planners are more concerned with the significance of the physical context. Besides, the architectural setting can facilitate the transmission of cultural and social values, stimulate or subdue, air creativity or slow mental perception, and cause fear or joy.

Color, classroom organization, cleanliness, sufficient supplies, and bright lights can enhance learning experience and boost student achievement. Alternatively, crowded rooms and a high-density of students often results in lower student achievement and a poorer student disposition.

One of the activation rooms at Mwito Pre-Primary School Consider the case of Mwito Pre-Primary School. We maximised natural lighting and ventilation for the comfort of pupils and caregivers, which enhances stimulation and concentration for the young learners. A south facing longitudinal provides ideal zenith light inside the room, and big windows allow for adequate linens on table surfaces. These same windows have low sills of 45cm high to provide a soothing, reassuring effect for the young habitants of the room, with views of lake Kivu.

What is your experience of learning rooms?

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