Making a change with architecture sometimes requires a different kind of job than designing. When it comes to spaces of learning — schools and kindergartens — change has to come about on a larger scale than a single building. We have contributed with our know-how to change the way architecture of educational spaces is understood in national and local governments and among the general public.
We have co-operated with the Union of Estonian Architects to shape the brief1 of state high schools (riigigümnaasiumid) and the requirements for applicants2 for EU funds earmarked for basic school renovation or construction (koolivõrgu korrastamine). In both cases the aim has been to revise the design requirements of new school buildings to include architectural solutions to contemporary ideas of education (muutunud õpikäsitus, liikuvus). Those requirements are used by juries and committees to judge competition entries or applications and decide the winner or receiver of funding.
We have co-operated with researchers of Tartu University on the topic of school children’s physical activity (booklet “Koolimaja kutsub liikuma”). We have compiled a booklet showcasing architectural solutions that promote physical activity in school buildings during the school day. Together with the research team we have underlined the necessity of informal and non-organised movement options (as opposed to organised sports). b210.ee/koolimaja.pdf
We have curated the Union of Estonian Architects annual exhibition on the topic of kindergarten architecture (“The Playing Man. Eight Visions of Contemporary Kindergarten Architecture”) and asked, with the help of participating architects and landscape architects, what is the potential of early learning spaces. The topic was inspired by an alarming trend of local governments opting for ready-made modules (widely used at construction sites for on-site offices) to expand kindergarten buildings.
As contributors to Arhitektuurikool (architecture hobby school for children and youth) we have compiled the curriculum and the content of architecture elective for high school students (arhitektuuri valikaine gümnaasiumile) and created an online architecture project for basic school students (loovtööprojekt Kooliruum). We have tutored architecture workshops in general education schools and public institutions (e.g. museums) all over Estonia. We have taught pupils at general education schools and students who study to be teachers at universities. We have networked with teachers of general education schools and interviewed pupils about their experiences of their school building. We have striven towards bringing the discipline of architecture to general education and to educate ourselves in the art/science of teaching.
We have advised schools on how to plan renovation projects and how to draw up a design brief for that. We have organised workshops for school administration and teachers and for pupils to explore their needs and wishes for a renovated school building.
When we have not been a part of organising an architectural competition for schools or kindergartens (as advisors or authors of the brief or members of the jury), we have tried to find time to take part of such competitions. In the recent years, we have won prizes for our proposed designs of Saaremaa State High School, Tabivere Basic School, Haapsalu Basic School, Kohtla-Järve State High School and Kuressaare kindergarten.
We have striven to raise the awareness of the public by publishing the topic of school architecture in media (articles in Estonian):
“Kooliruum ja koolirõõm” Kadri Klementi & Elo Kiivet, Sirp 25.05.2018
“Koolimaja tervitagu õpilast juba uksel” Tiia Kõnnussaare intervjuu Kadri Klementiga, Õpetajate Leht 09.12.2016
“Milline on muutunud õpikäsitust toetav kooliruum?” Kadri Klementi & Katrin Koov, Postimees 29.04.2016
“(T)uus kool. 10 tähelepanekut Viljandi riigigümnaasiumis” Kadri Klementi, Sirp 04.09.2015
Currently we are co-operating with the Union of Estonian Architects on the next booklet about school architecture (Muutuv kooliruum) that will be published in spring. The booklet is a non-profit project distributed free-of-charge.
1 — the official design brief of all government-commissioned high school buildings that is published as part of architectural competitions for those buildings
2 — raising awareness of local governments as commissioners of contemporary school architecture