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C.F. Colombo, Y. Mastromattei, L. Ottolini, S. Varvaro

Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
The binding relationship between the traditional physical place devoted to education, the classroom, and the performance of this function has long been called into question. A growing number of capillary diffused educational experiences attempt to take the "school out of school" and seek for spaces and opportunities that suit increasingly engaging and stimulating methods for teaching and learning. The pandemic emergency we are currently experiencing let us believe that a new way of conceiving the relationship between space and learning action is more urgent than ever.

Our research investigates this topic through two key words: “temporariness” and “transportability”.
Why do we always think that the shape and position of a physical space for learning should be permanent?
Why can’t we imagine a temporary, dynamic use for it? Moreover, why can’t be moved?
Why can’t we focus on small-scale cultural and educational experiences, which are also capable of fostering reactivation processes in fragile contexts or in outlying realities?

As we said, learning has gone beyond a static form long ago. Technological development, propensity to innovation and dynamism have introduced new and modern modalities in the educational practices. Schooling can be performed in parks, in the woods, in almost any open space, even within urban areas.

More and more often, spontaneous and more structured initiatives, promoted by cultural associations or by enterprising school staff, develop small temporary architectures dedicated to education. These modules are small in size, economical, easily assembled and transportable, capable to adapt to different contexts and flexible in their internal and external equipment. They may be spaces targeted to specific activities, such as art or technology, narrative or reading, or designed as multifunctional platforms to host different concomitant actions.

They are small mobile educational workshops that can be used both to integrate existing structures or to work independently in dedicated areas, in order to carry out a specific activity aimed at a targeted audience or referred to a peculiar event, for a limited time. In this case the temporary use can be replicated over and over again, in another contexts and for a different time lapse.

In other words, they are small travelling spaces dedicated to culture and education that can be used where culture and education fail to offer an adequate service to the communities in which they are located, due to specific contingent conditions or temporary emergency situations. In recent years, this type of experiences is timidly spreading.

“School Wheel” (design Atelier Bow-Wow, Busan 2006), “Classroom of the Future” (design Gollifer Langston architects, London 2008) and “Portable Classroom Concept” (design Studio Jantzen, 2012) are some of the examples that this contribution intends to investigate, highlighting their common features, possible criticalities and outcomes, in order to verify how the educational action associated with a mobile, flexible and light space can contribute to the spread of new ways of learning and new cultural and educational ideas.