Iarina Tavă, architect, Romania
My School Can Be Cool
HundrED shortlisted this innovation
Why did you create this innovation?
The Romanian schools are mostly forgotten in the last century. Communist buildings, rigid and cold, are not the right environment to shape the minds of the future. The improvements brought upon by authorities are a fresh coat of bright paint. We aim to involve in this process the pupils and the teachers, the ones that spend on a daily basis over 80% of their time in these environments.
How does your innovation work in practice?
The program, launched in 2015, is aimed at gymnasium and high school students, teachers and volunteer architects.
The students have the opportunity to discover and develop a way of thinking specific to architects and designers (design thinking) through making proposals to improve their school, being thus engaged in an active learning process in which they use their practical sense and creativity. It is a project-based approach to learning on a concrete example that they know and use, the school. Students investigate the school, identify building issues they want to improve/change, imagine what they want to do. They document, analyze, and make project proposals, which they will present to potential users. The architect and the teacher are only guides in this process.
In order to stimulate learning and give meaning to what was learned, students will select from their proposals the feasible part to be built within a given budget they have at their disposal from program sponsors.
How has it been spreading?
The past few years have shown us the project is needed. In 2020 we earned a sponsorship that allowed us to make an online guide: https://de-a-arhitectura.ro/scoalamea-ghid/. In 2021 we’ve won a competition that will finance the implementation of two of the projects developed in the 2021-2022 school year, furthermore we’ve signed an agreement with a local city hall in Romania which will finance another project. Seeing that our program and approach are valued at such an extent that local authorities and sponsors want to provide us with funds are the endorsements we were looking for, a validation of our work in the past 7 years.
The next years will be focused on securing further partnerships with the local authorities which in Romania control the funding for improving educational spaces.
If I want to try it, what should I do?
To replicate the program in a different context you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The course materials are mainly in Romanian, but over the years we’ve translated part of it into Bulgarian, English, French, German, Hungarian and Ukrainian in 2022. In Romania, all De-a arhitectura teaching materials, workbooks and training courses are free for their users in the public schools.