by Dolores Victoria (Lola) Ruiz Garrido Director of the Little Architect Visiting School
06 May 2014 Architectural Association, London   Over the first decade of the 21st century, the way we designed our cities changed. The participatory model, the community voice and a fluid dialogue between citizens and politicians was demanded or, even better, accepted as the norm. With a certain, slow pace and a big dose of optimism we can assert that future urban settlements will be developed within a social base with deep implications. Today more than ever, it is necessary that we begin our education in architecture and sustainability from a young age.   Architecture is dynamic with a far-reaching social impact through its development. Architecture is constantly interacting with us; it evolves and gets transformed in our everyday lives. It is always there, out in the street and giving us shelter, communicating our past and expressing hopes for new futures. That future is what we – Little Architect´s educators - want to explore with children, to equip them with tools to understand, enjoy and consciously interact with their built environment. To create a sustainable future we need to invest time and new educational processes in primary schools because, as Buckminster Fuller wrote, “children are enthusiastic planetarium audiences”1   Little Architect is a London-based education and research platform, as part of the Architectural Association’s Visiting School Programme. We teach architecture and sustainability in London primary schools to promote creativity, positive thinking2, and a better understanding of our shared urban ecosystem. We research and develop architectural teaching resources especially designed for very young children in KS1 and lower KS2. We promote observation and drawing of the built environment to foster awareness for the daily landscapes and hidden treasures that cities have to offer. We use creativity as a tool to empower children to be more actively critical and propositional citizens.
We believe that by introducing architectural teaching into the national curriculum at an early age, it would enormously expand children’s innate creative potential3. They will learn not to fear new shapes and colours, new materials, and least of all new inventions in technology and energy. It would make them more open to architectural evolution, and also more critical and propositional about their surroundings. By starting young, we would build a society that would challenge the status quo and question what is good and bad about the cities of tomorrow. The most effective change starts at the source or origin, and at the AA we have started already!   DSCN0213   One of our main goals is to teach children that cities are remarkable environments where we, as humans, should do our best to realise our own happiness and well-being without compromising either the Earth’s resources or the existence of other urban species.   Our workshops are organised around a collective project; focusing on transportation, urban food, urban flora and fauna, buildings, heritage, energy, water, rehabilitation, citizens and communities. They all provide an opportunity for children to think, speak, and draw buildings and cities of today as well as their imagined futures.
DSCN0193   We aim to teach life-long skills that will enable children to discover the amazing amount of beauty that surrounds them on a daily basis.   We want YOU, as a member of the AA community, to be involved with Little Architect. We will be collecting articles, experiences, projects, pictures… everything you would like to send us that relates to the amazing world of architecture and primary education. To contribute, email LittleArchitect@aaschool.ac.uk   I am delighted with Little Architect; I couldn’t be happier and more grateful than I am through developing this project at the AA. This is just the beginning but hopefully soon we can share our love of architecture, cities and its citizens with every school in London!   1 Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. R. Buckminster Fuller. 1969 2 Positive education: Positive Psychology and classroom interventions. Martin Seligman. Oxford Review of Education Vol. 35, No. 3, June 2009 3 Why Creativity Now? A Conversation with Sir Ken Robinson. September 2009 | Volume 67 | Number 1 Teaching for the 21st Century Pages 22-26   For more information: Little Architect in the Visiting School Prospectus Follow Little Architect on twitter Like Little Architect's facebook page