Amandine Jouin, who’s been leading the reCreation Lab program since its creation, tells us more about what’s new this season.
→ Getting children to use design in order to imagine and create the school they want for tomorrow… How did this project emerge?
Children spend a lot of time at school. Obviously, it’s a very important place in their lives: a place to learn, but also a place to socialize, build oneself outside of the family unit, find one’s bearings as an individual.
As we were talking with the children, it became clear that they feel there's a lack of space in their classrooms. As a result, very quickly, the question we asked ourselves was, “how can we optimize a variety of school spaces to make it a real place to learn, fulfilling for the children’s development?”
At Youth Camp Experiences, we work with a PhD researcher, Angélina Stoësz. She’s quite passionate about the ties between design and learning processes. We used her work to make design a tangible exploratory field for children. It allowed us to engage young people and get them to work on real collaborative and concrete projects in relation with their school.
Through this entire process, we tried to get children to explore three main dimensions that we all believe are central to design, and that it's essential to layer when conceiving useful and functional prototypes: empathy, optimism and creativity.
Our objectives were: 1/ with empathy, to enable children to put themselves in someone else’s place in order to identify everyday life problems (and therefore come up with solutions); 2/ with optimism, to show them that being a designer is a way to give oneself the means to change what you’re not satisfied with through positive action; 3/ with creativity, to work on written and oral skills, as well as fields such as geometry, measurements, etc. to stimulate imagination and their capacity to make things themselves.
→ What were the project’s main steps?
We wanted the children to experience the steps in the design process, rich material for learning. We wanted to allow the children to make 10 prototypes, all fully based on the needs they’d expressed themselves. In order to achieve this, the program mobilized both public and private stakeholders working together to help children conceptualize the school of tomorrow, based on their wishes and ideas. The final result of the project was the creation of plans by the children and the construction of prototypes by the design students that accompanied us throughtout the project.
Collaboration is at the heart of the project, so the first step was to set up time to meet and train the teachers, then the design students, to launch the project.
In total, we brought together 10 classes across 5 cities: Aix-en-Provence, Gardanne, Marseille, Ventabren and Vitrolles—250 students in the equivalent of American 3rd to 5th grades, and 10 teachers. New this year: 31 design students worked with us, from ESDAC, an Arts and Design School in Aix-en-Provence, and ESDM, a design school in Marseille. As for the reCreation Lab team, the four of us have very different backgrounds: Angélina Stoësz, PhD design student, already mentioned, as well as Miki Nectoux, architect and designer, and Claire Van Rijswick, architecture and patrimony mediator.
Then we started work with the children over 7 months: 40 sessions in class, 10 days at thecamp, 10 visits to workshops, fablabs and design schools, and 1 big final presentation day at thecamp. In the middle of this packed program, there were also 10 residency days for the design students to build the prototypes at the collaborative and solidarity-focused fabrication workshop, ICI Marseille.
To construct the program for the project, we followed the design process: the children first came up with ideas and solutions working with the design students, through drawings and physical objects. 44 plans were drawn up and presented publicly so the 10 classes could each choose a project to develop for their school, with guidance from the designers and architects.
Then the design students worked on the 10 plans to create technical specifications for actually building the prototypes, with the help of their professors and the ICI Marseille professionals. During the residency days, the design students were confronted with realistic and professional fabrication conditions, by working for example with welding or carpentry.
Finally, we were able to have the children participate in finishing the prototypes and we prepared them to speak about them in public. They were also able to experience their prototypes as 3D models in virtual and augmented reality, techniques that we'll use at thecamp on May 28 for the final presentation. The children and the design students will be proud to present all their work!
The 10 prototypes will be presented at thecamp on May 28, in presence of all the program’s stakeholders!
→ What kind of designs came out of this?
The prototypes created by children and students seem to mainly focus on the idea of well-being at school. We noticed several trends:
- Creating quiet spaces in the schoolyard where to rest and chat
- Creating play areas in the schoolyard
- Rearranging indoor spaces to allow group work, as well as places where to isolate oneself in order to better concentrate thanks to modular furniture
You can check out the 3D models of the prototypes right here.
And to see all of this in real life, you can join us at thecamp on May 28!!
Learn more about reCreation Lab season #01 right here (French only!). See how 10 classes of pupils aged 9-10 wrote two digital collaborative books.