Outdoor School︎︎︎

Type: School
Location: N/A
Size: 324 SF
Year: 2021

A school where children determine their own curriculum. Deployable structures mark entry and provide cover, with continuous walls tying them together and demarcating the child-run landscape.

In 1943, Carl T. Sørensen proposed the “Adventure Playground”. The idea was simple but radical for urban Norms: provide an uncontrolled space for children to do whatever they want; a landscape “in which children could create and shape, dream and imagine a reality” in the city. In 1969, Paulo Freire wrote his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. He argued that for education to be truly liberating, the student must play a self determined role in assembling knowledge as a “practice of freedom”. 

If Sørensen aimed for children’s self determination of play, and Freire for children’s self determination of knowledge, this proposal embraces both. Rather than children following a teacher’s prescribed curriculum, here the teacher supports the child’s adventures. Education becomes a tool for realizing the imagination of one’s environment.

Around children’s busy activity, the classroom structures serve as a calm and functional backdrop. Walls provide the children’s domain. Occasional flaps, nooks and bulges in plan offer attention to the landscape or the beginnings of a new project. Towers act as gateways between the child-led interior, and the adult-led exterior. Opening up only when parents have left, the walls and towers contain a double secret. What appears externally to adults as a respectable school, is internally a landscape of freedom. And what feels to children as freedom, is really their growing education.

© 2021