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  • 11.24.10

A 21st Century School on the Cutting Edge of Learning [Slideshow]

Bosch & Fjord create a school that integrates cutting-edge thinking about how kids learn, and how teachers want to teach.

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We are instruments endowed with feeling and memory. Our senses are so many keys that are struck by the nature that surrounds us and that often strike themselves. — Denis Diderot

If form followed function in today’s schools, then there would be no need to change the current learning environment.

The current model that pervades today’s school design is based on an outdated 19th-century model — what academics call age-specific grouping, contain and control, didactic instruction, prescribed knowledge, uniformed progression, fixed schedules, and standardized assessment through memorization. In walking into many of today’s schools, you are instantly transported to the familiar experience of the double-loaded corridor, self-contained boxes with minimal daylight, and giant, impersonal lecture halls.

Artists and architects Bosch & Fjord rejected this Victorian thinking in their design of Ordrup School. In their design for the school, Bosch & Fjord translate, in physical terms, how today’s children want to learn and how today’s teachers want to teach. The design team literally moved into the school and took the time to observe, record and analyze the dynamic human interactions and complex relationships of learning.

Inventing a new language to describe this new pattern of learning, Bosh and Fjord galvanized their design concept around three central themes: “peace and absorption,” ‘discussion and cooperation,’ and “security and presence.” With these three central modes of learning, a diversity of education spaces for children unfolded?colorful ‘hot pods’ for group discussion, organically shaped tables for group work and creative play, personalized learning “booths” for reflective work, and playful circular tubes for reading and contemplation. Bosh & Fjord recognized that we all learn very differently, and they transformed Ordrup School based on this conviction. The form of Ordrup School, albeit playful and beautiful, now follows the function.

About the author

Trung Le is a principal education designer at Cannon Design. Over the past two years he has helped lead an interdisciplinary group of designers and educators from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany, to collaborate on a research project that resulted in the publication The Third Teacher: 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning.

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