My research explores how architecture can be considered an educator. How is architecture – as activity and setting – pedagogical? More specifically, it investigates how children can be involved in (re)designing their environment as a wide-reaching learning activity that encourages multiple intelligences, in a bid to democratise the city and develop practices of responsible citizenship.
Situated in Mumbai in collaboration with the education NGO Muktangan, my research process uses a series of pedagogic experiments to examine the socio-political contexts of a simultaneously global and local city and its potential to house active citizenship practices by children. I use critical pedagogy and co-design practices to include children in activating what Henri Lefebvre has called their right to the city. Combining Paulo Freire's critical pedagogical praxis and constructivist theory of education, I propose the development of a collective design practice that fuses learning with the city. Children can become active citizens through design and work with local craft as a political design tool.
Muktangan School aims to enhance Indian state curriculum with a constructivist oriented pedagogy, catering for disadvantaged communities. Four yearly series of workshops ran from 2012 to 2017 with the same class of school children during an incremental, experiential and reflective project to observe, assess, and then transform learning environments. Using activities borrowed from architectural practice, the children became involved in the transformation of their school and neighbourhood by designing interventions that act generatively and interrogatively.
Challenging the current disconnect between practice and research in the areas of pedagogy and architecture, this research demonstrates the value of collective design through local craft for the making of a more democratic learning city, aiming to influence communities, architects, educators and policy-makers.