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We reshape schools, which in turn shape us for the future.

My School Can Be Cool

location_on Bucharest, Romania
My School Can Be Cool is an educational program which through participatory design processes reshapes the face of schools in Romania. The pupils, guided by an architect and a teacher, have the opportunity to investigate the environment they spend most of their time in, the school building and its surroundings, to analyze it and make proposals that get built, in accordance to their needs.
Iarina Tavă, architect, Romania
“The children received a great deal of confidence and felt what it means to be involved – and during this period of transition to high school it will help them a lot.”

Iarina Tavă, architect, Romania


HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.
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Innovation Overview

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Updated on August 9th, 2022
about the 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: 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 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.


See this innovation in action

“My School Can Be Cool”. A school jus as we want it.
The “My School Can Be Cool” program was featured in the “Present continuous” section on PressOne, an independent online publication.
„My School Can Be Cool” at Radio Romania Cultural (IClasă - Clasa de părinți)
In January 2022 De-a Arhitectura was invited at Radio Romania Cultural to talk about its activities, the „My School Can Be Cool” program, and about being selected amongst HundrED’s 2022 Global Collection of 100 leading innovations in K12 education from around the world. Check the radio interview here: 
My School Can Be Cool on Ardeal TV
One of the architects teaching the My School Can Be Cool course, Bianca Bărbieru, was invited at a local Romanian TV station to talk about the program and the pupils' activities.
My School Can Be Cool in print
One of the project in the program was published in a Romanian newspaper, Jurnalul. The Bucharest school won the competition and received a sponsorship in 2019 to implement their project - am outdoor green space for relaxation, socializing and various activities.
My Scool Can Be Cool on Radio Romania Cultural
Two of the architects involved in the My School Can Be Cool program were invited on the Romanian radio station - Radio Romania Cultural (RRC) on the Science 360 show (Știința 360) hosted by Corina Negrea


Achievements & Awards

August 2022
De-a Arhitectura was invited to the “Cultural Mediation Forum 2022” in Cluj-Napoca to define the participatory design methods used in the “My School Can Be Cool” educational program and to talk about the association's role as a cultural mediator for architecture and built environment education.
June 2022
Innovation page created on
February 2022
Reșița City Hall is the first in Romania to sign a partnership contract with the De-a Arhitectura Association for the development of the educational program “My School Can Be Cool” over two school years, 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. The support of the mayor's office allows increasing the relevance and sustainability of the interventions for personalizing the school spaces. The partnership marks a new stage in the “My School Can Be Cool” program.
October 2021
“My School Can Be Cool” was presented in the “Romania New Nature” country trailer ( at the Expo 2020 Dubai.
September 2021
“My School Can Be Cool” was chosen among the 11 winning projects at Raiffeisen Communities 2021 (out of 129 participating projects) and will be funded with up to 50,000 lei, which will be used to run the program and implement the two projects winners of the internal competition between schools.
July 2021
Mina Sava, President of the De-a Arhitectura Association, presented „My School Can Be Cool” at “Conversaciónes ANIDAR 2021: Arquitectura y Niñez” (“ANIDAR 2021 Conversations: Architecture and Childhood”), a space for reflection and conversation about the connection between childhood and the practice of architecture.
February 2021
“My School Can Be Cool” at UIA - Architecture and Children webinar, Built Environment Education (BEE) and School Planning for and with Children
October 2019
“My School Can Be Cool” at Education without Stress Conference in Cluj-Napoca, Romania
May 2018
“My School Can Be Cool” at the exhibition and conference Ludantia. I Bienal Internacional de Educación en Arquitectura para la Infancia y Juventud in Pontevedra, Spain
October 2017
“My School Can Be Cool” at SCHOOL + HOSPITAL 2017 Conference in Bucharest, Romania
May 2017
“My School Can Be Cool” at the “Researching with and for children, Place, Pedagogy and Play” International Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland

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