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A Learning Landscape

Alannah O'Reilly


Proposal: Primary and Secondary School
Location: Ravensdale Road, East Wall, Dublin 3

‘If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s students, then we would rob them of tomorrow’ – John Dewey, 1916

Mass education has mirrored society’s industrialisation – its function was to mould children to become pliant citizens in the capitalist world. Thus, educational architecture has traditionally been teacher-focused, set in four-walled vessels with minimal discovery offered. However, the role of architecture in education is vital in underpinning environmental, socio-economic, and cultural factors in the struggle for resilient development.

This thesis investigates how critical care applied to design and child-centred pedagogy can be used as a conceptual framework for a school building which, in itself, teaches, develops habits, and is climate literate. A case study of the East Wall in Dublin explores the construction of such an educational landscape and school. The following research evaluates a possible architectural response, creating appropriate 21st Century educational spaces where the architecture becomes an aid in student experiences and educational processes, and where ecology, environment and culture, alongside the freedom to learn through play are central. Architecture’s role should not be undervalued: it can be a teaching tool.

By applying critique to the ocular bias of our conventional educational system, and our culture at large, this thesis will propose an educational model for primary and secondary schools that both actively and passively demonstrates a climate-responsible architecture. Architects are trained in design – our lens must transcend the myopic focus of immediate gratification, and create a future educational architecture that is critically cared for: localised, shared, resilient, educated, connected and intergenerational.

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