SCHOOL FOR 21st century learner




"If we look at the earth as a territory devoted to life it would appear as an enclosed space, delimited by the boundaries of living systems [the biosphere]. In other words it would appear as a garden"

(Clement, Gilles)


Our future schools need to create a supported learning landscape which manifests the links between the internal and the external environment, between the individual and the society. The architectural proposition for this school for the 21st century, is a learners exchange centre in which pupils, individually, and interactively, observe and experiment with the impact of natural forces like sun and rain, learning how we can adapt to, and utilise these forces, rather than simply resist or overcome them. It is an adaptive and learning landscape that has its own embedded epistemological framework that is constantly engaged with and understood, re-calibrated and nurtured- according to the constantly re-constructing and more curious minds of its students. The gardens which surround and impinge upon the school become a metaphor for the dynamic and responsive environment which is required in our educational buildings.




As a collection of material and technical elements, together with basic and experimental types of gardens- they are capable in themselves, of providing students with multiple learning opportunities. It is imagined that some of these could function in the following way’s;


An understanding of natural sciences: Through observation and understanding of the way in which the building engages with climate and weather (sun and rain), and harvests energy and water using the solar p.v cells, and a network of water channels and collectors along the roofline and extending into the central garden and play-spaces. Such is the building’s morphology (section/plan/materials) that an experiential understanding of the natural elements can be considered by the learner e.g through observing daily solar cycle on the building’s interior (as it is aligned along the cardinal points), to seeing the effect on sunlight and rain on the interior through the use of rooflights, to seeing effects of rainwater to provide a growing environment etc.


An understanding of geometry: This is possible through the integration within the building form of a series of geometrical forms-squares, rectangles, circles etc, that can be conceptualised by the learner in basic and advanced ways.


Understanding by live experimental learning: Through the provision of water collectors, solar p.v cells and a ‘greenhouse’, we imagine an environment that facilitates experimental natural-science experiments e.g growing algae for fuel, growing diverse types of fruits, and simply by understanding the engineering processes behind each of these systems.



Design: Jason O’Shaughnessy, Barry O’Shea, Kieran Cremin.

enhouse 5
enhouse 5