Redifining the School Building
A New model for Schools in San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, P.R. / Professors I. Williams, B. Kelly, C. Bovil, J. Cohen / Spring 2010
It has been proven by philosophers and experts in education that children have multiple intelligences; and that they learn from different experiences that transcend and complement the traditional lecture method. Unfortunately a lot of the schools building being used in Puerto Rico were designed in the first half of the 20th century and responded to the traditional classroom layout. A good working example is an elementary school located in the neighborhood of Puerto Nuevo. This area was developed during the 40’s to take low-income families out of the slums. Although suburban in character the neighborhood is located in the core of urbanized San Juan. In 1990 this school became part of the Specialized School Program of the Department of Education, specializing in the Developing of Student Talents. The three main talents the school specializes are: academic, physical and artistic. For the last 20 years this school has developed the progressive curriculum with classes, activities and the staff necessary to provide a 21st century education. The problem is they are trying to implement an evolving new curriculum in an outdated classroom building. This thesis will explore the possibility of redefining the architecture of the school building to allow the flexibility to achieve the school educational goals. The building could serve as a model to strategically transform existing schools into buildings that are more responsive to the climate, culture and educational goals of Puerto Rico. To achieve this transformation the design goals are:
•Learning Spaces that promote different modalities based on the students different intelligences and talents
•Spaces for student mentorship to generate discussion between students from different age groups. Student should take charge of their educational development and should encourage and assist others in achieving common goals.
•An open school that allows and promote a reciprocal relationship between the school and the community. The community is an essential part of the development of the students therefore their experiences are part of the learning process and they should participate and experience the outcome of it. The school is an important element in the community and it should provide access to different services the community lacks.