Children`s Architectural Workshop

Learning with Architecture

The Children`s Architectural Workshop, headed by Magdalina Rajeva and Anna Kalinova, is organizing the ‘Children`s City’ part of the ‘Building Together’ Project. The idea was formed, of the  Youth Hill as a space that children can recognize as their own and they can build the city they are dreaming of.

The project started with a competition ‘The School we dream of’ aimed at the school children of Plovdiv, to gather participants and start working on Youth Hill. “When we started with the very idea of the competition, we decided to focus mainly on the schools because the school is the place which children know really well. For us it was really important to put them in a familiar setting and to ask them how they view the school and how they would be happy to change it.” Three interesting proposals were nominated, their award being to continue working on their projects under a professional guidance.

The workshops during the weekend always start with a short introduction to the specific topic - related to different architecture types - bridge, tent, geodesic dome.  The idea is to give the children a sense how the structures work, before making them in life size. They try what works and what doesn’t. “So we rely on them to discover the right way on their own without too much theoretical knowledge.” Architecture could help transform the educational system and incorporate all children's perceptions for learning. It can easily create these interdisciplinary connections between the various subjects children encounter, which will help them connect the knowledge they already have in each niche, as the things gain sense and become associative. Moreover, the work with different materials is very beneficial for the fine motor skills and sensitivity and possesses a therapeutic effect. Since 2011, when the Children`s Architectural Workshop started, the benefits of a practical approach are obvious to Anna and Magdalina.

The children need corners where they can gather together in their free time and just talk and to have some calm and tranquil place, they are also in search of comfort. As in Bauhaus ‘The function follows the form’ - the way we live influences the conditions and atmosphere around us, thus the children are encouraged to think what their favourite activities are and from this point to start creating what they will need in order to practice them. Further than this principle, the workshops follows coincidently the structure of the 1st year of Bauhaus. The experimentation process with different materials is a great example. At Bauhaus exist different workshops for different materials, during the workshops on Youth Hill the children are not restricted, they can use everything – metal, wires, wood, other construction materials, concrete. Moreover they can also experiment with different lighting during design exercises. Furthermore, they are introduced to the history of architecture, the children pass through different epochs and they get to know where the school of Bauhaus comes from and why it is so important.

During the thematic workshops in June, the winning schools discovered the space, they discussed how all their ideas can be implemented. In the end, the children worked out a real project themselves and put it into action on site.
The idea for July is the sustainable enrichment of Youth Hill – there is this building ex-‘pionerski dom’ and the big idea is for it to be recovered in the form of a center for children where different workshops can take place – mountain training, for example, education through a variety of approaches in interactive and non-formal way.

In addition, the actual Children’s city project started on 1st June on Youth Hill, hundreds of children from different ages participated and got involved with real instruments, screwdrivers, paint, saws. “There was such a high interest we were even surprised – we ran off materials by the middle of the day!” The focus was on the recycled materials, in order to show the children they can create different places for rest and entertainment without buying new things but actually using completely second-hand items.