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2

LLyttenhouse, P. (2012). Beaudoin et Lods. Paris : Editions du Patrimoine. Centre des monuments nationaux.

3

Lloyd Alter, “Bring Back the Open Air School” , The Tree hugger. July 2020.

School Space Challenges in the Face of the Pandemic (I)

Open-air school on Boulevard Bessières, Paris. Agence Rol, 1921 – Source: Gallica-BnF.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged most of the world’s schools into uncertainty. This can be seen particularly clearly in the fact that the measures adopted by schools have varied from one country to another. But can space management help slow the spread of the virus?

 

Jakob Brandtberg Knudsen, dean at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, argues that the increase in life expectancy is due just as much to architecture and engineering as to medical advances and improved hospital facilities. He especially highlights the decisive health role played by the channelling of clean water, the drainage of dirty water, the provision of suitably ventilated and sunlit dwellings and spaces, and the use of anti-pathogenic agents in streets and facades. According to social anthropologist Christos Lynteris, however, illnesses transmitted by air are the least likely to produce significant changes in cities and buildings1.

But Lynteris’s claim disregards the architectural battle that was waged in some schools at the beginning of the last century to stop the spread of an infection very similar to coronavirus in its manner of transmission: tuberculosis. That controversy gave rise to what were known as open-air schools and forest schools. In those establishments, most of the classrooms were completely open to the exterior or, in the case of forest schools, physically disappeared; Nature, with its basic elements of air, water and sunlight, was permanently present; and teaching schedules, committed to a holistic pedagogical approach which acknowledged the individual pupil as a complete person, attached as much importance to physical exercise and rest as to the academic syllabus.2

Examples of such institutions include the Waldschule für kränkliche Kinder in Charlotenburg (1904), designed by Walter Spickendorff; the Open-Air School in Amsterdam (1927), by Jan Duiker; and the École en Plein Air in Suresnes (1935), by architects Beaudoin et Lods. The rooms of these schools all incorporated the three basic principles of modern architecture: light, air, and openness. Large glass surfaces dissipated boundaries with the exterior, there was plenty of natural ventilation, and the buildings’ flat roofs could be used as terraces. The shelves and cupboards in each classroom also had wheels, to allow school activities to be moved outdoors.3 These schools began to disappear in the years following the Second World War, due partly to improvements in housing and partly to advances in vaccines and medicines. Some critics also argued that classes were more difficult to control and pupils were more prone to distraction outdoors.

 

Today, despite our awareness of children’s health and physical exercise needs, school spaces are still a long way from prioritising their physical and emotional wellbeing. Indeed, in these times of COVID-19, UNESCO has deemed fit to remind us that schools are not only places of learning but should also provide social and emotional support, nutrition, and health, especially for the most underprivileged groups. Any measure affecting space should therefore ensure its use as a container in which such principles can flourish.


Text translated by Andrew V.Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notas de página
2

LLyttenhouse, P. (2012). Beaudoin et Lods. Paris : Editions du Patrimoine. Centre des monuments nationaux.

3

Lloyd Alter, “Bring Back the Open Air School” , The Tree hugger. July 2020.

Autor:
Es arquitecta por la ETSA de Sevilla (2003) y Máster en Arquitectura y Patrimonio Histórico (2008). Primer premio por su fin de carrera en la XXI Edición del Premio Dragados. Se forma en el estudio de Ricardo Alario, con quien comparte actualmente actividad profesional . En 2011 funda junto a Tibisay Cañas, Laura Organvídez, Ana Parejo y Sara Parrilla cuartocreciente arquitectura, una iniciativa creada con el objetivo de mejorar los tres espacios principales en los que se desarrolla la niñez (casa, escuela y ciudad) a través de la investigación, los talleres de arquitectura, la realización de proyectos y el diseño de objetos. Actualmente desarrolla un tesis sobre el espacio de juego exterior en la infancia, dirigida por Ángel Martínez García-Posada. Ha escrito y presentado diversas comunicaciones sobre el playground y el juego del niño en la ciudad.

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