06 Nov 2020 • Institutions
Post-Pandemic Schooling: Teaching pupils to live in cohabitation with nature
With makeshift spaces embedded in the outdoors, Studioboom prepares schooling for a future where learning – at times – will have to take place more locally.
In the lead-up to each issue, we challenge emerging designers to respond to the Frame Lab theme with a forward-looking concept. While most governments are keen for educational facilities to reopen – both to aid parents’ return to work and to avoid a generation of learners falling behind – others are more cautious. But whether we will enter the age of at-home learning or revive the physical classroom, schooling will need to adapt to ‘the new normal’, meeting both social and safety needs. How? We asked three creative practices to share their ideas.
Founded by Fabrizio Piras and Flaminia Ratto in late 2017, Milan-based Studioboom operates in a wide range of fields, from retail to fashion shows and from new constructions to renovations. The duo is also known for the visualization of suggestive, forward-looking settings and the use of unconventional objects. Studioboom’s pop-up educational spaces are entirely transparent, helping students to connect with their natural environment.
What were your first thoughts when asked to think about the future of education?
FABRIZIO PIRAS: That the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world’s balance in every possible way, compromising everything from politics and finances to the health-care system and the worlds of art and architecture. It’s important to consider the idea that, in the near future, periods of quarantine and (semi) freedom will alternate. This means there is a need for new living styles that respond to these new realities. Now is the moment to reimagine and redesign spaces based on the potential future scenario in which unknown viruses and other species will coexist. It’s become clear to us that this global crisis should represent a new starting point and education par excellence will play a crucial part in this new beginning.
But education, in its current form, has been compromised, too.
FLAMINIA RATTO: Indeed. The safety measures put in place by governments across the world have had a massive impact on education and traditional school buildings have proven largely unequipped to safely welcome students back in. Architects now face the challenge of using new technologies to develop learning spaces that cater to future generations. The key question will be how to facilitate learning without intensifying social distancing.
But what about online learning?
FP: Online teaching, as it was implemented during the lockdown phase, cannot replace what physical learning environments represent for children and young generations. The school is central to youngsters’ lives. It’s the place where interpersonal skills are developed and flourish.
So what alternative are you suggesting?
FR: The need for bigger areas to welcome pupils in complete safety requires a prompt response. To temporarily tackle the problem, we therefore suggest a makeshift space that’s easy to assemble, lightweight and mobile. The structure will be see-through, foldable or inflatable, and made completely out of recyclable and biodegradable materials. This pop-up space can be set up in all sorts of public and private areas such as parks, city squares and schoolyards.
FP: In a world where virus outbreaks remain a possibility and risk, we believe it’s important to be able to create low-density living clusters that form small grouped communities, thus reducing commutes and the risk for cross contamination.
Why did you decide to make the pop-up spaces see-through?
FR: Because of its see-through quality, the structure blends in with the environment, breaking down the barriers between the in- and outdoors, and between human beings and other species. This way pupils will learn to live in cohabitation with nature – respectfully and sustainably.
This article is featured in our latest issue, Frame 137. Get your copy here.