Teenagers and architecture

How about introducing architecture to children and teenagers in school as a means of getting better architecture? Teachers can use architecture as a learning resource for other subjects as well. De-a Arhitectura Association thinks bringing teenagers and architecture together is a good idea. It’s also a good way to give voice to children and teenagers and what they want from the built environment.

De-a Arhitectura has a network of built environment professionals who share knowledge with children and teenagers.

Image from a De-a Arhitectura workshop.

A picture from the De-a Ahitectura workshop. A teenager is putting a pin on a large map on a wall

The way professionals understand the built environment and the way the public see it are quite different. One group often left out of consultations is teenagers. Consequently, De-a Arhitectura set about finding out how to give voice to teens.

Using workshop methods, participants analysed their city for facilities and how it feels to be in the city. One workshop focused on the experience of pushing a stroller, being in a wheelchair, and pulling luggage. The research paper describes the workshop methods used in the project.

The follow up project provided a way to raise awareness that teenagers perspective should matter. Teenagers have a language of their own and the researchers found they had energy and innovative ideas. They engaged younger and older people in their lives in the stories they create. And they provided a fresh angle or perspective on things.

The researchers conclude that teenagers have their own visions and benefits from interacting with public space and the activities they carry out.

The title of the paper is, Empowering Teenagers Through Built Environment Education While Experimenting (In)The Public Space. Published in the proceedings of the 2023 World Congress of Architects.

From the abstract

Teenagers may not be the most obvious left-out category of people, but in the design and use of public spaces they are often left out. Public space belongs to everyone, yet teenagers have few ways make their voices heard. How do they demand their own space, which represents their identities and offers a creative and comfortable environment in which they can socialise and evolve?

De-a Arhitectura Association began to develop the Urban Up educational program in 2016. It was a starting point in diversifying its portfolio with teenagers, aiming to be inclusive of all categories and backgrounds.

Throughout the past years, Urban Up has tried to hear their wishes and expectations from the built environment and the public spaces they use. We used different hands-on activities (extracurricular) and with a design thinking methodology for improving their schools.

Trying to constantly find better communication channels and to reduce the generational distances, we started a fellowship program for students in different study fields connected to the built environment (multidisciplinary teams), in order to bring teenagers and young adults together.

The students became mentors for the high school students, in workshops they co-designed, aiming to engage them in better understanding and using public spaces. It is our belief that the more aware and involved teenagers are today, the more active and responsible citizens they will be tomorrow.

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