Educating a ‘Creative Class’: Anti-Disciplinary School Architecture in the Early 1970s
Childhood in the Past
In 1970, Sim Van der Ryn, professor of architecture at the University of California in Berkeley, together with a group of collaborators, who included the schoolchildren themselves, embarked on a series of experiments in alternative school designs. The emphasis was on breaking down the institutional spatial order into smaller, ad hoc, personalised spaces, or else spaces for unexpected encounters. By the early 1970s, a new generation of architects had begun to critique what they considered to be the repressive ideological apparatus of the classroom, with its rigid seating arrangements, furnishings, lesson plans, and hourly divisions–in short, the whole pedagogical apparatus of what Michel Foucault called the ‘disciplinary society’. While this and similar experiments, I argue, had limited effect on subsequent school buildings, most of which remained institutionally conventional, they foreshadowed the work spaces of new companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere that promoted creativity and collaboration among elite employees.
classroom space, counterculture, experimental schools, institutional critique, progressive education, radical design, School architecture
Art and Art History
Anthony Raynsford. "Educating a ‘Creative Class’: Anti-Disciplinary School Architecture in the Early 1970s" Childhood in the Past (2020): 138-152. https://doi.org/10.1080/17585716.2020.1791498