Interview with Herman Hertzberger (2017): architecture as visual and social connection

An Interview with Herman Hertzberger from May 2017 about Architecture’s Role in Providing Visual and Social Connections

Advertisements

Our second interview with the architect Herman Hertzberger – the first from 2016 is here and covers a broader range of topics. This conversation focuses more explicitly on the roles of architecture and space in helping to establish social connections and provide people with resources to act in space. It also covers looking and the visual’s relation to the social as well as how Hertzberger himself looks and works. The interview took place on May 3rd, 2017. Continue reading “Interview with Herman Hertzberger (2017): architecture as visual and social connection”

Measuring and Evaluating as Rhetorical Management

Are evaluation and measuring a form of rhetorics? A political art of obscuring the political? What’s Post-Occupancy Evaluation got to do with it?

I’m struggling to write a chapter about the measurement and evaluation of school buildings in use, what’s called “Post-Occupancy Evaluation”. Writing this is an attempt to clarify some thoughts about how the selection and measurement of values in a process of evaluating buildings is necessarily political and involves the communication and projection of particular values (rather than a mere recording of them). I argue that evaluation, what is valued and their promulgation can be thought of as a form of rhetorics. Continue reading “Measuring and Evaluating as Rhetorical Management”

An Anarchic Take on Architecture, Space and Education – Giancarlo De Carlo and Franco Bunčuga’s Conversazioni su Architettura e Libertà

Some notes about a book of interviews with Italian architect and anarchist thinker Giancarlo De Carlo.

Image of cover of De Carlo and Buncuga book

The following are notes on themes (principally space and education) I found interesting in Giancarlo de Carlo and Franco Bunčuga’s Conversazioni su Architettura e Libertà (2014, 2nd edition) [Conversations about Architecture and Liberty]. Continue reading “An Anarchic Take on Architecture, Space and Education – Giancarlo De Carlo and Franco Bunčuga’s Conversazioni su Architettura e Libertà”

What High Schools Look Like and Why

After 1968, James Ackerman, Giancarlo De Carlo and others questioned school design: why? why like this? This post revisits their questions.

In the Middle Ages, colleges like those at Oxford looked like monasteries because the Establishment was theocratic; today [1969], our high schools look like factories and regiment students like the labor force because the Establishment is commercial and industrial.” (James S. Ackerman)

Ackerman is generalising and knows it. He wants to skip past instances of particular schools in particular places and think about why they tend to look as they do: it’s a question that’s often ignored.

But ignoring why facilitates an automaticity about school design that works to obscure who they are designed for and what purposes. [1] Schools, Ackerman says, are not built for students but for Continue reading “What High Schools Look Like and Why”

On Forgetting: Some Similarities between Architecture and Social Media

Architecture and social media share a way of being understood as neutral things – their social production being obscured.

Both architecture and social media provide structures through which people interact and those interactions are encouraged in certain ways. They also share a tendency to be recognised less by the social action which go into making them what they are, but by their identification as things: buildings in one case, platforms in the other. Their social production is often forgotten. Continue reading “On Forgetting: Some Similarities between Architecture and Social Media”

An Interview with Jill Blackmore on space, learning, feminism and the politics of education

Professor Jill Blackmore discusses learning spaces, teachers’ work, feminism and the complexity of education.

Jill Blackmore is Professor of Education and former Director of the Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia.

She has published widely in education and sociology with a longstanding interest in issues of equity, feminism, teachers’ work and classroom practice. Recently she has led teams studying school learning environments leading to an extremely useful literature review, Research into the connection between built learning spaces and student outcomes (PDF, 3MB) as well as the Innovative Learning Environments Research Study (PDF, 1MB) (See also learningspacesportal.edu.au). Jill also advises the OECD on their Learning Environments Evaluation Programme.

This interview crosses a lot of ground – from her recent work exploring teachers’ use of space to her own teaching Continue reading “An Interview with Jill Blackmore on space, learning, feminism and the politics of education”

Pearson, IBM Watson and cognitive enhancement technologies in education

An excellent piece reblogged from Ben Williamson’s (Stirling University) site on the coalescing of business, Artificial Intelligence, learning, data and governance – a definite recommend to read. These are some thoughts on what the implications of Ben’s post could mean for school architecture in the long term.

In some ways the implications of what Ben is writing about for students and education are very worrying. However, as well as monitoring and critiquing the development of Artificial Intelligence and new business models (as Ben does so well here), his post perhaps points to a role for re-asserting the value of physical, bricks-and-mortar schools and their design in principally social and sociable terms.

School architecture is often (and increasingly I think) expressed in terms that emphasise its contribution to learning. As one component of why schools are important that’s fine. But when definitions and, importantly, measures of learning are as narrow as they are in England, for example, there is a risk that schools are perceived, funded and built with a functionalist frame of mind: the measure of a good school building is its contribution to (narrowly-defined) learning.

In this sense, architecture becomes a technology of learning maximisation, crowding out schools’ social purpose and makes it harder to discuss what else schools might be about. If or when this added-value-to-learning approach to school architecture is shown to be outwitted by AI (by their own definitions of learning, of course), or schools are deemed to be unnecessarily expensive bits of real estate when Pearson et al can do it all remotely, then the (narrow) school design→increased learning argument will be challenged.

It’s easy to be alarmist with this stuff (another reason why the post is so good, it’s a very measured argument) but I think this is a debate worth having: What are schools for again? Is it principally learning? Rather than learning the kind of things that are algorithmically promoted or most amenable to forming the basis of a reliable performance measure, what do we want that learning to be about, with whom and how?

code acts in education

Ben Williamson

ibm-watsonImage: Atomic Taco

The world’s largest edu-business, Pearson, partnered with one of the world’s largest computing companies, IBM, at the end of October 2016 to develop new approaches to education in the ‘cognitive era.’ Their partnership was anticipated earlier in the year when both organizations produced reports about the future trajectories of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence for personalizing learning. I wrote a piece highlighting the key claims of both at the time, and have previously published some articles tracing both Pearson’s interests in big data and IBM’s development of cognitive systems for learning. The announcement of their partnership is the next step in their efforts to install new machine intelligences and cognitive systems into educational institutions and processes.

At first sight, it might seem surprising that IBM and Pearson have partnered together. Their reports would suggest they were competing to produce a new…

View original post 2,146 more words

Interview with Herman Hertzberger (2016)

Herman Hertzberger, born in Amsterdam in 1932, is one of the world’s pre-eminent architects.

He founded Architectuurstudio HH in 1960 and continues to run this thriving practice in the centre of Amsterdam. Best known for his designs of cultural buildings, housing complexes, offices and schools, he is also a prolific writer and teacher. His books, include a series of Lessons for Students in Architecture and Architecture and Structuralism: The Ordering of Space (2014) and he has held a number of academic posts, including professorships in the Netherlands and beyond.

Herman Hertzberger’s views about how education can be promoted through architecture and how schools should be designed for the young today are the subject of this interview for A&E, as well as his lively insights into his own childhood and schooling in Amsterdam in the 1930s. The interview took place on the 9th of September 2015 at his offices in Amsterdam, with questions from Dominic Cullinan, Dr Catherine Burke and Emma Dyer. A further interview from 2017 is also available on this site, here.

 

 

As a small boy I lived in this fantastic urban housing project called Plan Zuid in the South of Amsterdam designed by Hendrik Berlage.  It was a special place with good streets Continue reading “Interview with Herman Hertzberger (2016)”

Do Buildings: a) dictate b) choreograph… …e) suggest what you do…

You’re in a building. (And if you’re not, just pretend your app/software or whatever is a building anyway, it kind of is.)

Does this building you’re in:

  1. Dictate what you do
  2. Choreograph what you do
  3. Shape what you do
  4. Influence what you do
  5. Suggest what you do
  6. Do nothing, I decide what I do
  7. None of the above, something else.

Continue reading “Do Buildings: a) dictate b) choreograph… …e) suggest what you do…”

Schools and School Design in Africa: An Interview with Ola Uduku

Ola Uduku (Edinburgh University) speaks about the historical influence of Western pedagogies and architectural traditions and their local adaptation in school design.

Ola Uduku is Reader in Architecture and Dean International for Africa at Edinburgh University’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). Her research specialisms are the history of educational architecture in Africa and contemporary issues related to social infrastructure provision for minority communities in cities in the ‘West’ and ‘South’. She is also involved in research into environmental analysis, and measurement tools and apps for educational and third sector uses. Continue reading “Schools and School Design in Africa: An Interview with Ola Uduku”

Does a School Building need to look like a School?

…is a question posed by the architect of the school where I’m doing my research. It came up in an interview over a year ago and has stuck with me ever since. Neither of us answered his question Continue reading “Does a School Building need to look like a School?”

Architecture as a Social Science?

Some ideas for seeing architecture as – amongst other things – a social science. Also a bit on why the social sciences seem to ignore architecture.

The idea of architecture as a social science might seem odd but there’s not much that more powerfully places, joins, separates and patterns people, their groups and relations than the built spaces we live, work and learn in. That, in brief, is the social side of things, explored below in more detail. And as for science (rather than as a practice or art which architecture can also be), well, an architectural design is a type of Continue reading “Architecture as a Social Science?”

Summer Reading – “Seeing Like a State” and the survival of high modernism in school planning

For a book that says almost nothing about Education – no classrooms, no students or teachers, no school architecture – James C. Scott’s Seeing Like a State is one of the best I’ve read on school design, being in schools and education.

He takes a phrase, “high modernism”, and uses it as a way to understand the rise of scientific forestry in late 18th century Prussia and Saxony, the creation of surnames in the Philippines in 1849 by the ruling Spanish, the planning of Brasília between 1956-61, villagization schemes in 1970s Tanzania and many other cases: it comes to mean Continue reading “Summer Reading – “Seeing Like a State” and the survival of high modernism in school planning”

Interview with Suzi Hall, urban ethnographer and architect

Suzanne (Suzi) Hall is an ethnographer at the LSE, London, where she explores people’s lives in urban spaces. Prior to that she worked as an architect in South Africa. Her 2012 book City, Street and Citizen: the Measure of the Ordinary, published by Routledge, draws on her ethnography of the Walworth Road, a bustling, dynamic street in south London but also a “contextual lens with which to view local expressions of social adaptation in the face of global change.” (2012:4) She coordinates the Super-diverse Streets project based at LSE Cities in London and this interview (by email) follows a May 2015 course there on Critical Urban Ethnography.

Do your own experiences of school shape how you think of people sharing space now?

A definitive no: I grew up in Apartheid South Africa and went to state schools. Continue reading “Interview with Suzi Hall, urban ethnographer and architect”

Making Spaces, Forgetting Politics

Walls* are breaks (Vesely, 2013). They break into established categories of meaning and space and make new ones. They do that publicly too, so we could also say that walls have a communicative function to orient attention and shout about what it is they’re doing.

And a school’s walls are especially powerful since they break into space in so many ways. They start by making school school and differentiating it from the outside Continue reading “Making Spaces, Forgetting Politics”

“Zigzag, white, no life”: a Martian’s View of Architecture

Our interactions with Google search results appear to contribute to the fetishization of Architecture as big white ribbed structures. This post explores why.

In a poem by Craig Raine, A Martian Sends a Postcard Home, the alien narrator describes the strange goings-on of humans to friends and family back on Mars. The unlikely language used to describe this foreign world is an effective way to make the world strange again, a tool to look at things differently. Mist, for example, “is when the sky is tired of flight / and rests its soft machine on ground” and a car “is a room with the lock inside – / a key is turned to free the world // for movement”.

Which made me think – what if a Martian did a Google Image search for the word “architecture”? Continue reading ““Zigzag, white, no life”: a Martian’s View of Architecture”

What are schools for? An interview with Gert Biesta on the learnification of school buildings and education.

Gert Biesta on school architecture and democracy, and learnification – a reductive reappraisal of education as learning.

Gert Biesta’s work recalls our attention to the purpose of education – before asking whether something “works” educationally, he’s interested in what we mean by education, what is it for, who is it for? He’s a Professor at Brunel University in London and at the ArtEZ Institute of Arts in the Netherlands and a member of the Steering Committee for the Design Matters project. After giving a talk to research students in the Faculty of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, he kindly agreed to answer a few questions on how we talk and think about school buildings.

The full transcript’s below or there’s an easier-to-print pdf here. In summary though, we discussed the changing vocabulary whereby classrooms become learning spaces and how this relates to what he wryly terms “learnification”. Continue reading “What are schools for? An interview with Gert Biesta on the learnification of school buildings and education.”