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TOPOGRAPHIES AND SHRINES: Creating Responsive Learning Environments

By : Iris Aravot

With most people living in 'archipelagoes of peripheries' in a late capitalist global regime, on an earth struggling with environmental crises, the mission of learning environments is to provide the pod for growth, whether for kindergarten children, teenagers or adults in lifelong learning. The pod is both a protective and an enabling surrounding, and itself a living part of a greater organism. The paper proposes an approach to creation of learning environments through the intertwining of topographies - the owned and continual space of everyday life and dwelling; shrines - the spaces for the new, the exalted, the non habitual; and making by the community - the continual collaboration of the community, teachers and pupils in the design and re-design of the learning environments. All three counterparts are profoundly context related, soundly local and of uttermost significance to identity, belonging and hence wellbeing. The paper unfolds knowledge from diverse sources, ranging from scientific to phenomenological research, from non-conventional community-specific learning environments to historical precedents, and from architectural theory to practical- professional experience of the author. The resulting approach, summarized in a metaphorical nutshell as Topographies and Shrines aims at a pod-environment of learning: responsive, inclusive, and supportive.
Keywords : Learning-Environments, Community, Responsive-Design, Dwelling, Phenomenology.

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