04 / Montessori / Building as Learning Landscape

04 / Montessori / Building as Learning Landscape


As the interior space of the child’s study of the Montessori materials expands, their thought process develops into an ability of abstraction and intellectual curiosity in relating knowledge to the external world. This learning process can been applied to an understanding of the agents or objects that compose their built environment. The students are encouraged to think and move beyond the didactic materials toward an understanding of the physical materials that form the ‘outside’ world.  As they move between their family home and the home-like learning environment at school, they engage in a range of experiences.

The layers, zones and fields associated with the Montessori materials inside the classroom can themselves figuratively expand beyond the prepared environment to include a larger perception of the school (place) as another parallel framework – an apparatus of learning. Outside is not perceived as ‘beyond’ or a boundary but an extension, growth, or succession and with clear associations. How can the language of ‘layers, zones and fields’ also be extended beyond the space of the room to the rest of the spaces of a school?

The aggregation of Montessori materials becomes a prepared environment – how can it become a “building” – something that participates in a process of relations between activity and physical form –  not just a static object with a roof and walls?

The (Montessori-based) educational model is a reference for generating a new approach to school-building.  How does the architectural composition define material and spatial transitions between the interior focus of didactic models and the abstraction of learning outside the classroom?  How can an architectural composition participate or influence these activities and perceptions?  How does it suggest divisions, transitions, thresholds and relations?  How does it generate areas of solitude and collective engagement?   Herman Hertzberger’s Lessons For Students In Architecture presents the duality of space / place – inside / outside  and the building transitions to connect the experiences of each.


  1. Scaled Drawings
    Compose the transitional elements between class-class, class-school, school and neighborhood that influence the aggregate learning ‘spaces’ – – outside transitioning to inside and vice versa; consider body, sight, sound, voice, activity in sequence, activities in parallel.
  2. Scaled Models
    Construct a model which to gives form to this perceived field of thresholds, transitions, and elements of spatial activity.
  3. Graphic Explanation & Presentation
    Communicate the benefits of your composition – how does its spatial structure,  sequences, choices of material and atmospheric effects, scales of measure, or other features respond to an educational agenda.


Due Wed, 10 Feb, 2:00pm


Herman Hertzberger, Lessons for Students in Architecture, Vol 1., Chapters 6 & 7.
Herman Hertzberger, Lessons for Students in Architecture, Vol 3., Space and Learning.


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