Architecture and the built environment – our buildings, villages, towns, cities and landscapes – provide the framework for all human activity and interaction. We give it form and it forms us. It affects mind, spirit, body, the ways we move from place to place and the people that we meet. It involves collective, social and critical action. Through symbolic, significant, public and private structures and spaces it represents the values of a community in concrete form.

 

The creation of architecture is an exercise of the imagination which draws on humanity, culture, heritage, history, environment and a critique of what exists. Change presents a challenge. But good architecture and a good environment, produced in genuine dialogue with the community, contribute to a more harmonious society where citizens feel empowered and heritage and creativity are reconciled.

 

The future quality of our environment will be determined by the children of today. Their ability to make sound, informed decisions will depend on the knowledge, skills and abilities they gain in the course of their education. Home, school, neighbourhood and community send them a message about their place in the world. For good or ill the environment provides the context, the ‘cadre de vie’ which so affects the physical and psychological quality of their lives, and in which they start to grow into their future roles as citizens. Built Environment Education will help children and young people to understand architectural design and the process by which the environment is shaped so that as adult citizens they will be able to participate effectively in the creation of high quality architecture that is humane, sustainable and respectful of its context.

 

Providing this education is a matter of partnership between architects and teachers in collaboration with schools, parents, education authorities and governments. Through its Built Environment Education Guidelines and its Network the UIA Architecture & Children Work Programme focuses its activity on supporting them in this task.

 

Websites within the UIA Built Environment Education Network aim to provide architects and teachers with ideas, materials, tools and resources designed to give children and young people:

 

  • Sensory awareness of the spaces – public/private, interior/exterior - that they move and live in

  • Awareness of roles, rights and responsibilities in the creation of the built environment

  • An appreciation of their architectural heritage and of contemporary architecture

  • An understanding of the relationship between the built and natural environment and of the link between sustainable development and quality of life

  • The vocabulary they need to discuss the qualities of buildings and places and how they relate to the life of a community.

  • Experience of the analytical and problem-solving methods of the design process

  • The capacity to work in a team, to observe, to identify problems and find creative solutions

  • The opportunity to experiment with techniques, forms and materials

  • The capacity to exercise sensitivity and imagination, taste and critical judgment

  • The discovery that architecture is a creative intellectual task of research and design that draws on humanity, culture, heritage, nature and society.

 

The UIA upholds the fundamental principle that all Architecture & Children activities be conducted in an ethical manner and with respect for the cultural identity of the community within which the children live.

 

Architects and teachers organizing or working within the context of Architecture & Children activities must also take steps to ensure that the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and all laws, codes and guidelines for the protection and safety of children are observed at all times.

 

 

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