Saturday, 14 January 2017

Art and Architecture

Shelter is one of the basic human requirements but appears as any number of solutions in the built environment.  At Hampton School's Art Department, with the RIBA Schools Programme, we thought it would be fun to explore this subject with a Year 8 Class and give them a brief to design and build their own personal shelter.

Examples of shelters
A shelters could be anything, to meet any purpose.  The class was introduced to this idea and we discussed different examples in relation to how they might approach a design of their own.  It became evident to the students that an Architectural solution would draw upon their knowledge of Art, Maths and Science based subjects.


Some ideas of how materials in sheets can make fixed and flexible structures
Before they began the design process, we experimented with card and paper, making different types of structures to see how structure and form could be created.  Several examples were tabled to explore, including folded and slotted structures, bolted panel structures, modular origami, box nets and transforming polyhedra etc.

Exploring how a sheet of card can be turned in to a structure, a sculpture, a 3D form etc.
Children are diverse thinkers and their creativity is not as restricted to the preconceptions we have as adults, which results from years of our own experience and learning.  The connections they made with the ideas given to them was very creative.  It was great fun to work with the class and be part of the 'light bulb' moments when they realise their designs and how to construct them.  Because the shelters were to their individual requirements, they had a variety of very imaginative and personal functions including: A garden sun trap, a paintball hide, a reading nook, a star-gazing shelter, a lunar pod and a gaming pod etc.

A selection of the Class' design solutions.  All very achievable on a larger scale
The final works were to be constructed from 8' by 4' Correx sheets, so the class was encouraged to think how their full-size designs might relate to this:  How big would the final piece be, what size of components can be achieved from the sheets, and how many sheets would be required?  Their design ideas were set out in drawings with notes on how they would be fabricated and assembled.

Setting out their design ideas in drawings
(Photos by Paul Cochrane)
From the designs we scaled up the components with templates to cut them out in Correx which were bolted together.  It was exciting to see the enthusiasm of the class to fabricate and construct their full size shelters and they worked efficiently, setting themselves up in to teams to achieve their goals.

Making the full-size shelters
(Photos by Paul Cochrane)
The shelters, architectural studies and design process formed part of an Art Exhibition at the School in December 2016, held for the parents.  Architecture is an interesting subject because it can be a very individual pursuit with very public result like Art, but can also require a rationality and a social responsibility to its users, which relate to more objective subject areas.  Its a fusion of many subjects including Art, Sculpture, Geometry, Materials, Maths and Science, which to me makes them all intrinsically linked and equally relevant.

The Exhibition
I thought the class did exceptionally well and I am glad they enjoyed the process.  I hope it will encourage them to look at their academic subjects and explore other opportunities where Art, Maths and Science might connect.  

Thanks again to Hampton School's Art Department and the RIBA's Schools Programme.

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