British architecture studio Foster + Partners, the firm credited with major accomplishments in the design of civic and community centers, public transportation, industrial facilities, residential housing, and a host of other projects, has just released a series of activities meant to entertain and inspire kids during the coronavirus pandemic — a time when almost all of them are spending their days stuck inside.
The goal of the firm’s new activities is to encourage kids to think more about their surroundings and consider the shapes and lines in nature. The team at Foster + Partners hopes children will evaluate the architectural elements of the buildings in their own neighborhoods, perhaps without even realizing that’s what they’re doing. It’s a traditional case of learning through fun, hands-on exercises. That is, after all, how many children learn best.
The firm’s initial announcement of the challenges explains that “over the next few weeks, we will be sharing new activities for children whilst at home, away from school. We’ll include drawing, making, playing, thinking, reading, watching, and other activities to keep them entertained — for at least a few hours!”
The projects are designed for ages two to 12, but they can really be scaled for creative exploration at any age. One popular challenge has been to create your own city using templates downloaded and printed from the Foster + Partners website. Children are encouraged to use these templates as taking-off points for their own creativity and share their designs by using the hashtag #architecturefromhome on social media, tagging Foster + Partners in the post, or even emailing the firm a picture of the project.
Katy Harris, senior partner at the firm, recently told Dezeen that “the recent lockdown has offered us an opportunity to create a number of online initiatives that educate and entertain our online community and support parents and carers with children who may not attend school at the moment. The #architecturefromhome initiative is a chance for all of us to have some fun and learn at the same time.”
If your student or child isn’t ready to build an entire city, they can start with a single skyscraper. Similarly, kids can better understand tension and compression in tall buildings by following directions to construct towers at home using recycled materials.
For a tidier and more condensed activity, the firm has also released a worksheet showing how to draw trees. On top of that, younger children are sure to enjoy the colorful and informative read-along book titled What Makes a Building?
Using photography to inspire is a common practice in architectural design work, so it only makes sense that kids could stand to learn a thing or two from that kind of storytelling, too. The firm’s even set up a specialized photostory challenge that offers information on getting the perfect shots and asks entrants to use their pictures to tell a story about the subject of their submissions.
The #architecturefromhome campaign is a great way to engage the budding designers and architects in our world, igniting a passion for the work through the simple act of drawing, taking a picture, or folding paper. And who knows? Perhaps the lockdown will create a whole new generation of builders and engineers just itching to make their ideas into reality.
According to the website, “Foster + Partners is a global studio for sustainable architecture, urbanism, and design founded by Norman Foster in 1967. Since then, he, and the team around him, have established an international practice with a worldwide reputation. With offices across the globe, we work as a single studio that is both ethnically and culturally diverse.”