Architecture is for everyone – including children. But there is a need for more children-oriented education and information about architecture. That’s exactly what is coming over the next two years, as thousands of preschoolers are going to feel, touch and sense architecture. Danish Architecture Center and Utzon Center are collaborating on a new two-year project, where 6,000 children will encounter architecture first-hand. In addition, 250 preschool teachers will also receive training in conducting courses on architecture for their young learners.
The project is one of the first and largest of its kind in Denmark. It’s called ArkitekTUR i børnehaven (ArchitecTOUR in preschool) and is supported by the Nordea Foundation.
Over a two-year period, Danish Architecture Center and Utzon Center will visit five municipalities in the regions of Northern Jutland and Zealand (Ishøj Municipality, Rudersdal Municipality, Helsingør Municipality, Jammerbugt Municipality and Aalborg Municipality) to facilitate the first encounters with architecture for 250 preschool teachers and approximately 6,000 children.
The goal of the project is to train these preschool teachers to plan and facilitate architecture trips in the local area and explore the surrounding environment with their students. Attention is drawn to the physical surroundings, and the experiences gained by the children will create a basis for linguistic development and interacting with the built environment through all of their senses. The project aims to show the many opportunities for offering experiences with architecture – including the architecture right around the corner that is part of the children’s everyday lives and where they are experts. The children will discover that Denmark is full of architectural experiences nearly everywhere they go!
- Architecture is an art that we are all in contact with every day in the home, in institutions, at work, at the library and in our recreational activities. We all have experience with architecture, including preschoolers, but we don’t necessarily have a language and the words to describe our experiences with architecture. That’s precisely our aim with this project. Together with preschoolers and their teachers, we’re going to explore the local architecture in the children’s immediate area and help them put their experiences into words. These reflections provide a good basis for the children’s own experimentation with space, shapes and sizes, says Matilde Marling Kiib, Head of Play & Learning at Utzon Center.
Do you want to play architecture? That’s probably not a question many preschoolers ask.
But, in fact, they already play architecture –- without knowing it. It could be the blankets and pillows they use to make a cave, which was the first home of humans. Or in the sandbox, where little architects make winding roads in the sand. Architecture is a natural part of children’s play in preschool and all children have relationships with space.
After all, we are all surrounded by architecture. Buildings and the urban environment shape the lives of adults and children alike, but many of us forget the great importance of architecture in our everyday activities. Architecture influences us – our behavior and our well-being. Architecture’s functionality, materials, light, colors, space and scale affects us and the lives we live indoors, as well as in the public urban space. This is the project’s focus as the children go out and sense architecture in their immediate environment.
Five central themes are at play when Danish Architecture Center and Utzon Center visit preschools beginning in the autumn of 2022: form, color, material, space and scale.
- The project seeks to sharpen children’s attention so that they learn about architecture from a very young age. Generally speaking, it’s about civil society and learning about democracy – and about creating a basis for actively relating to the built environment around you,” explains Luise Holm-Rathje, Head of Education at Danish Architecture Center.
Christine Paludan-Müller, Head of Grants at the Nordea Foundation says:
-We’re proud to be part of an ambitious project that will guide many children through architectural experiences in their local area, which stimulate their natural desire to play with physical space, design and building materials. We look forward to following the project’s results.
Danish Architecture Center and Utzon Center have many years of experience in architecture outreach with teaching for children of all ages.
Read more about the project at the respective websites of these two cultural institutions (in Danish):
Download photos here:
Kim Rathcke Jensen, Head of Communications
Interviews can be conducted with:
To ensure adoption and participation in the project, the municipalities’ preschool teachers will participate in a course that introduces methods and tools for working with the concept of architecture in a preschool education context. The course aims to ensure that the teachers can independently initiate play and games relating to architecture, as well as plan architecture trips in the local area once the project is completed at the end of 2024.
An ArkitekTUR (ArchitecTOUR) with instructors from Danish Architecture Center and Utzon Center stimulates how the children sense and experience architecture. The tour conveys the idea that architecture is everywhere, and provides new ways of understanding architecture by sensing and interacting with it. For the preschool teachers, the tour provides an illustration of how they can plan their own ArkitekTUR.
With fun tools and elements that stimulate the senses, the conversation starts inside the preschool. The experiences then expand when a guide and a preschool teacher team up to lead the children on a tour of the local environment around the school. Activities could include a “rooms” hunt, where the children go searching for “rooms” of different types and sizes. After all, what is a room? Can it also be a small patch of grass under the tree or the sandbox? Or does a room have to have a roof?
The experiences continue back at the preschool, where play can continue based on the five themes: build a cave out of cardboard, build a cave with pillows, build a cave with string and a sheet, etc. Which room is most pleasant? And which is most durable? At home, the play and talk about architecture can continue with parents and siblings. These conversations are facilitated by the Conversation Book, where children and their parents can explore the themes together. The aim is to extend the children’s experiences from an ArkitekTUR by supporting and inspiring conversations between children and adults about architecture. This also inspires the families to venture out on their own and explore their city.
Each course concludes with a mini-exhibition at Danish Architecture Center and Utzon Center.