Arkki an architecture school for children

Arkki an architecture school for children

Arkki is an interesting non profit, the first school in Finland specialising in providing after school architectural and environmental eduction for children and young adults.

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The weekly architectural clubs are tailored for each age range. 4-6 year olds learn about architecture, nature, light, colours and shapes through play and imaginative projects like model making. 7-14 year olds explore issues like ecology and sustainability as well as cultural history and the impact of tradition in design. They also analyse the spatial experience and use their senses to experiment with space.

As they get old the topics become more complex, by the time they reach the 14-18 year old age group they explore design problems from small scale like designing door handles to the larger designing houses and city planning. They also learn about architectural history and contemporary architecture.

Around 500 children between the age of 4-19 participate in the courses on a long term bases. They also run short term courses every year.

They use a range of methods including models, 1:1 scale, using their senses to experience architecture and digital tools. Play is essential as it is the way children explore the world and learn natural, so a playful approach allows the kids to use their imagination, intelligence and experiment.

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Find out more on their website arkki.net

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Hoxton Street Monster Supplies aka Ministry of Stories

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies aka Ministry of Stories

Hoxton street monster supplies aka Ministry of Stories is a fantastic project in London’s East End. Hoxton Street Monster Supplies provides monster themed goods like dragon food and the thickest human snot. It is a front for the Ministry of Stories a writing program that inspires 8-18 years olds through the power of story telling.

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It was started as a pilot project by Lucy McNab, Ben Payne and Alistair Hall. Inspired to start one after attending a workshop on running a not-for-profit organisation by Dave Eggers founding member of 826 Valencia, the first of this type of program. 826 Valencia was opened in 2002 in San Francisco  the location they got for their planned literacy workshops was zoned for retail so they needed to sell something. They came up with a pirate themed shop with writing workshops at the back. The idea proved so popular that chapters sprung across the U.S from superheroes in New York to outer space in Seattle.

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Lucy and Ben were able to secure seed funding from the Arts Council and JJ Charitable Trust but it all took off when author Nick Hornby joined them. They soon set up shop in Hackney, East London with the aim to inspire a nation of storytellers.

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As a charity model it is a fascinating one. The money generated from the shop goes to running the workshops which are staffed entirely by a team of volunteers. It provides a mix of talented people the opportunity to do a range of things from building websites to advising on financial matters. Fundraising is still important and they have created fun ways to support them, for example you can buy your own ministerial position. Emma Thompson is minister for Imaginative Naughtiness.

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Design is one of the key focus. As Lucy McNab says “the quality of design is a really important part of creating the fiction.” Lucy and Ben are co-directors with Alistair as creative director. One of their rules is that everything that is sold works or can be eaten. Production is small, meaning that each idea is carefully thought out and researched. They sometimes collaborate with others, Studio Weave produced Salt Made from Tears. The packaging is simple and thoughtful and the spaces are beautifully designed. The workshop spaces include wall illustrations made by Heather Sloane.

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Design runs through not only the monster themed products and lovely shop design but also the very high standard of work they produce with young people. From newspapers to books and plays. Taking this professional approach teaches the young participants how to take an idea from that moment of inspiration to the finished product. They produced the Awfully a Bad Guide to Monster Housekeeping written by the children with the help of poets and writers in the workshop.

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For both children and adults it is a place that encourages them to use their imagination. I would love to see a program like it in here in Glasgow, but for now I for one will definitely be checking them out when I’m next in London.

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For more information check out their website

Ministry of Stories http://www.ministryofstories.org/

Horton street monster supplies http://www.monstersupplies.org/

Taking it to the street

Taking it to the street

Lately I’ve been exploring  some really interesting projects and organisations that have a focus on community and empowering young people to get out there and change their environment. Encouraging learning by doing. I’ve compliled a list of the projects I’ve discovered so far, here’s Part 1. They are definitely worth checking out!

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The Building Hero project

Building Hero Project in Philadelphia empowers young people to be community change makers and leaders, by educating them in design and entrepreneurship. The group meet a couple of weekday afternoons at the department of Making + Doing in West Philadelphia. They aim to make their neighbourhoods better places to live through design, so public spaces are central to the program. The ‘heroes’ learn through designing, making and selling products that improve public spaces, homes and everyday lives.  For example one bench was originally designed to be put in neighbourhoods that lacked public space. A really simple way to transform public space.

The Building Hero project has an interesting and highly sustainable funding model. They sell the products designed on their highly successful Etsy store. The money raised from the Etsy store means that they are able to fund the program, covering material and tool costs, pay a Building Hero and help the program grow.

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Project M 

Started in Alabama, Project M goes by the tag line “thinking wrong”. Inspired by architect Samuel Mockbee’s Rural Studio, graphic designer John Bielenberg started the program to inspire designers,and creatives from a range fo fields to use their work to positively impact communities.

Similar to the Building Hero Project participants are encouraged to experience being social entrepreneurs by going out there and making. Not to wait for permission or a project. . The sessions run for two- four weeks with a groups of 10 people, and there are shorter projects 48 hour “blitzes”. The groups have to identify a problem and solve it. By finding something that is meaningful, something they are passionate about and figure out a way to do it. The resulting projects include Pie Lab, a space for conversation and design. It started small as with Project M members standing in a street corner and handing out slices of pie to passers-by with the idea to spur community and conversation, one slice at a time. It has since grown to a local cafe with a space for designers.

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Tog Studio is a live-build summer school, started by Scottish architecture and engineering graduates to meet the gaps in traditional education. The emphasis is on practical building skills and collaboration on real life projects in beautiful locations.

Tog is a gaelic word that means ‘build’ ‘raise’ educate and ‘excite’. Their projects aim to inspire self builders, in 2013 the team built a boathouse for the Tiree Maritime trust.

I find these projects so inspiring. Their real life problem solving initiatives and balance of education, action and entrepreneurship is wonderful to see and the positive impacts they are making in their communities.

 

If you know of other interesting projects let me know and I’ll check them out! And keep an eye out for Part 2 🙂

 

Broken City Lab, Calgary, Canada

Broken City Lab, Calgary, Canada

Broken City Lab is a project in Calgary, Canada run by an artist led interdisciplinary collective and no profit. They used a range of projects, events, workshops and interventions to explore their locality. With a focus on research and social practice to generate works that critique, annotate and re-imagine the cities they encountered.
One of their projects was Urban Discovery, where they went around the city over a week, in a camper van making explorations and discoveries of the cities narrative. I love the idea of going round the city and engaging with people in their environment. Another thing that is great was the simple materials they used, like post it notes, blackboards.
Their blog is great so check it out! 🙂
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Cardboard Inventions- Kiel Johnson

Cardboard Inventions- Kiel Johnson

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Just discovered the work of Kiel Johnson, he makes incredible cardboard arts from camera’s to participatory cityscapes. His use of cardboard a simple everyday material, is fun and playful. And shows how simple materials can be used with great imagination. I really like the quote he gave in his TED talk “I’m a firm believer that a good idea only comes when working on a bad idea and I just have to get busy and trust that something good will happen.”

The cityscapes look brilliantly engaging, allowing people to make, collaborate and interestingly talk to each other. And his Corrugated Youth seems like a lot of fun, I want to make a robot outfit too.

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Find out more on his website 😊

http://www.kieljohnson.com/kieljohnson.com/HOME.html