On a recent visit to My ArchiSchool in Wong Chuk Hang, we discovered some of the amazing things young children can learn when taught architectural concepts and given the freedom and tools to create.
Alice Cheung, the school’s founder, is an experienced professional who has served as an authorised person (architect) and one of the interviewers for the professional assessment for the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, as well as the Architects Registration Board in Hong Kong. She is passionate about teaching children the skills needed to use the tools now available for everything from drafting to incorporating cutting-edge technology.
“We teach children the methods that real architects use in their work. Once they have this basic knowledge, they are taught the necessary skills to create their own work using the various tools we can provide. These include drafting tables, materials to build physical models, and computers for 3D modelling using the latest technology,” Cheung says.
Through a series of carefully planned modules and hands-on experience, the children learn about aspects of art, mathematics, science, geography and English as part of the process.
The school’s learning environment is designed to be welcoming, with space set aside to showcase the students’ work. All beginners, regardless of age, start at Level 1 and steadily progress to Level 4, where they can come up with concepts, develop designs, and select suitable materials. They are also taught to take environmental factors into consideration.
Students of 6-18 years old also use technology to bring their ideas to life with 3D models that can be manipulated.
One such tool is the 3DExperience Platform developed by Dassault Systèmes, which makes it possible to view computerised models of buildings like the ICC tower in Kowloon from many different perspectives.
With the pioneer digital assets-and-facilities management platform, which based on the Building Information Model (BIM) technology developed by Wang Shuo of the school of architecture at the South China University of Technology, once basic information has been input, live updates can also be added from data collected from the ICC and surrounding areas.
In this way, students learn about facilities management issues such as energy usage. Each floor can be monitored with real-time data from the building and analysed. It is then possible to figure out why one floor uses more energy than another and to develop efficient and effective solutions.
With the right data, this platform can also generate 3D models of entire cities. Already, “Virtual Singapore” and “Paris 3D” videos have been created using real data, in which the images reflect changes in local conditions.
Lesley Lee has two children attending My ArchiSchool, 14-year-old Catrina and 11-year-old Brandon. Their first project was to design a toy or a noodle shop. They first learned some basic design concepts and then built models using foam board, wooden sticks, putty, paint and lights.
They sketched their initial designs by hand and were encouraged to explain the underlying concepts and special features of their creations.
“With the first project, there was plenty of room for improvement, but they had a strong sense of satisfaction and were truly proud of their work,” Lee says. “At the school, they can really let their creative side go wild and try to fly high.”
The programmes on offer use an active learning methodology. Therefore, children learn by doing and take the chance to explore the characteristics of different materials, observe the environment, and come to understand the principles of practical design.
As a result, they also start to think more about urban planning, sustainability, and the efficient use of resources. Ideally, considering such issues then becomes a habit, which will stand them in good stead in the future.
My ArchiSchool is an education institute that introduces the skills and knowledge needed to explore a career in architecture. For class enrollment or educational activities/ exhibitions, please contact Cathy Ng at [email protected] or (+852) 9613 1137.