Program / Youth
Role / Co-Founder
Collaborator / JP Jackson
Recess is a youth community outreach program created to introduce design principles to local students. On the third Saturday of every month, students from the RSA partner with the STEM Foundation to introduce creative thought processes not typically integrated into a daily curriculum. After prepared lessons, students partake in design exercises and conclude the day by presenting their work to the class. Recognizing that most of the students won’t pursue a profession in architecture, the aim of the program is to use design as a vehicle to improve their communication skills. Recess is entering is third year of existence under new leadership, yet preserves the original lesson plans.
The first lesson, Structure, was conceived in order to introduce some elementary architectural concepts. We define the built environment, introduce buildings as a collection of parts, and discuss the architect's role in assembling these parts as part of a larger effort to enhance the built environment. For the lesson students are asked to consider how forces work in tension and compression as they design a structure to support a given load.
Building on this, the second lesson, titled Communication, stresses the importance of good verbal and visual communication skills in architecture, but also more broadly in their everyday lives. For the lesson we ask students to speculate on the inhabitation of forms provided to them. By limiting the scope of the exercise to the infill of a provided form, the students are able to think in terms of architectural drawings. After reorganizing the program of their home into the form, students then model their proposals using Sketchup. Several of the students downloaded Sketchup at home and have been designing in their spare time. One student has since used Sketchup to propose a community revitalization project in his neighborhood.
Our third lesson, titled Space, builds on the previous two lessons, but focuses more on the agency of the architect in shaping space. Space is introduced using both quantitative and qualitative terms. Using floor tiles we ask the students to map out square footages on the ground. Students recognized that quantitative requirements (program) aren’t restrictive as they might be in a math problem. Using Rice University as an example, we discuss building types and how building programs necessitate different building forms.
Later lessons deal with problems of landscape and urbanism.