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Educational Architecture - Education, Heritage, Challenges

The international conference on Educational Architecture – Education, Heritage, Challenges is a three-day conference to be held in Lisbon from 6-8 May, 2019, at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Educational Architecture – Education, Heritage, Challenges is organised by a group of researchers from the University of Lisbon and the University of Coimbra under the scope of the research project ‘Atlas of School Architecture in Portugal – Education, Heritage and Challenges’, funded by FCT, the agency that supports research into science and technology in Portugal.

Educational Architecture – Education, Heritage and Challenges is intended to be a forum for discussing the most recent innovations, trends and concerns in this area, as well as the practical challenges encountered and the solutions adopted in the planning and design of new and existing child-centred educational environments. It will discuss the current challenges and requirements faced by educational environments, focusing on different perspectives and scales of analysis, such as the role of the educational space within the local urban fabric, its impact on the local community, and the design of informal and formal educational spaces (spatial, functional and environmental quality; spatial organisation; furniture and equipment; etc.). It will also provide an interdisciplinary platform for leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholarship holders, as well as for educators, practitioners and, policymakers from different geographies and backgrounds, who will enjoy opportunities for discussion and mutual understanding, in the pursuit of common research goals.

The aim of this three-day conference – Educational Architecture – Education, Heritage, Challenges is to provide a forum for knowledge sharing in order to understand:
1) where specific individual and collective visions/policies originate from. Do they come from architects, pedagogues, head teachers or politicians?
2) design strategies, trends, values and problems, whose different experiences can inform current challenges.

Educational child-centred environments include schools and preschools, but also playgrounds, urban and public spaces, sports and health facilities, and cultural spaces, among others, which are being increasingly identified as places of educational (and social) significance. In this wide range of facilities, schools are facing major challenges that question their already established system of organisation, as well as their methodologies and practices. The emergence of new educational challenges is linked to the need for innovative environments that allow for new teaching and learning approaches, by testing new methodological approaches to learning, encouraging the development of new forms of school organisation that reach beyond the traditional class (and classroom) and promoting informal interdisciplinary education and inclusive environments within the framework of today’s global society.

In this context, the renovation of existing child-centred environments is also a subject that is open for discussion, looking at their capacity to adapt and to assimilate contemporary educational, technical, environmental and constructive requirements (e.g. safety, accessibility, energy efficiency, comfort), while preserving their architectural, urban and cultural identity. The preservation of these spaces’ original conditions should take into account that current requirements may call for intrusive solutions that can jeopardise their original identity and value. In many cases, these spaces are subjected to intensive and onerous use by a diverse community demanding robust and cost-effective, low-maintenance solutions, which may be incompatible with the preservation of the original solutions and materials. Furthermore, communities often ignore the heritage value of the spaces that they use on a daily basis, thus underlining the need to promote actions that will raise awareness about the architectural and educational heritage of these spaces.

Taking note of future, present and past changes, the Educational Architecture – Education, Heritage, Challenges conference will discuss the following questions:

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