Arkki, School of Architecture for Children and Youth

Arkki, School of Architecture for Children and Youth, is a nonprofit organization. Arkki is the first school in Finland specializing in providing architectural and environmental education to children as an after school activity.

Arkki offers a variety of architectural courses to young people and creates educational curriculums for schools, museums and after school art and architecture clubs. Around 500 children between ages 4 and 19 participate weekly in architectural courses on a long term basis. In addition Arkki offers annually various architectural short term courses for about 1000 children.

Arkki is also involved in research projects and organizes events and conferences. Arkki is involved in national and international networks of professionals in the field of architecture and environmental education. It also organizes training for school teachers and daycare personnel.

In Helsinki Arkki runs a Children’s Gallery of Architecture.

 

Architecture Clubs for Children

The main activities of the foundation at the moment are the weekly architectural clubs. The youngest participants are 4 years old. Children from 4 to 6 years old learn about architecture through play and imaginative projects by means of model building using different materials. Main themes of investigation are the elements of architecture like the relationship between the built environment and nature, space, light and shadow, colors, shapes, materials, structures, scale and proportion, mass, opening and closure, time and movement. Tradition and cultural history are also part of the curriculum.

With 7─14-year-olds issues such as ecology and sustainability are considered and discussed from different viewpoints. Cultural history and the impact of tradition in the design of buildings are studied, as well as forms and mass, structures, and the symbolic language of architecture. The relationship between the natural and the built environment is considered. Children get acquainted with city planning processes. Also immaterial qualities of architecture are discussed and considered. Analyzing the spatial experience and examining space with all the senses is most fascinating to children of all ages.

As the children grow older, the topics and study in Arkki become more profound and complex. Children between ages 14 and 18 study different aspects of architecture. They get acquainted with design in different scales; from designing door handles to houses to city planning. They learn how architects and designers work and they learn to understand and read architectural plans by drawing themselves. They also learn about architectural history and contemporary architecture and its masterpieces.

A major activity in Arkki is the art of hut building. That is building architectural constructions in 1:1 scale. There is an archaic need in all of us to build huts and shelters. Learning by doing in a human scale is always exciting to children of all ages.

 

Philosophy

Since architecture is a spatial form of art, it is crucial to study it three-dimensionally, involving all the senses.

Arkki utilizes a wide range of methods, but emphasizes 3D working methods, which have proved to be very effective in learning to understand the built environment. By building miniature models and also in 1:1 scale, children can make discoveries by themselves instead of being given answers by adults.

Children are encouraged to use all their senses in experiencing architecture. The human scale and the role of the body in experiencing the physical world form a basis for teaching. The interplay of imagination and intelligence, theory and experimentation are encouraged in project work.

Learning occurs through play and carefully planned project work. Play is the means by which children explore the world and learn naturally. A playful approach enables children to use their inborn imagination and to utilize their natural spontaneity. This contributes to the development of creativity and spatial thought processes. Experiencing success is a crucial element in all learning. Succeeding encourages one to explore the subject further.

 

Aims

The aim of the Arkki foundation is to promote architecture education in Finland in order to help children to fully discover and enjoy their built environment and architecture, to help understand the impact and meaning of architecture to man and to help understand everybody´s joint responsibility of the environment. Young people learn to observe the environment and analyze it critically. Their personal relationship to the built environment develops as well as their skills of participation.

Through different activities Arkki wishes to light a spark in young people´s minds so that they want to influence and participate in the development of the built environment in the future, whatever their occupation is.