School of Originals

Beau Avedissian, Sau Van Dong
University of Technology Sydney

Project idea

The school of originals sets itself apart from any other school. It’s different and inclusive.

The current education system is a dated “one size fits all” factory scheme of education to train students to become academics, and not equip them for the real world. Students are punished if they rebel, procrastinate or fail.

The School of Originals aims to solve this problem by embracing rebellion, procrastination and failure, as its these qualities that create Original thinkers who are creative innovators.

Designing a school was a competition. We challenged the idea of a competition building to be built, designing a school that has the built potential but to act as a catalyst for conversations and debates. This idea allows us to speak out our position, an idea to resonate and push the architectural and educational disciplines.

Project description

As stated before, The School of Originals aims to solve this problem by embracing rebellion, procrastination and failure, as its these qualities that create Original thinkers who are creative innovators.

We broke up these pedagogical themes (of rebellion, procrastination and failure) into three zones that structured the school: Instruction zones (orange) acting as rebellion; Procrastination zones (blue) acting as procrastination; Production zones (yellow) acting as failure. We understand that one cannot be forced to procrastinate, so these zones act as intensities, where by the space is designed to intensify that particular mode of thinking, with particular design strategies in place.

In the first zone, instruction zone, rebellion here implies a sense of thinking outside the box and going against the grain. Rebellion is acting in the Instruction zones that are spaces to intensify divergent thinking.

Students begin here, where they take their own creative stance with support by tutors who encourages them to challenge or question this norm.

Spatially, there are many devices that attract divergent thinking, such as Newton’s apples, a giant apple that students escape from the chaos and enter a realm of intense thinking. The distinguishable form encourages the students to think divergently.

People have preferred working conditions where they feel thermally comfortable. Thermal sensation has a direct relationship to efficiency and the ability to learn and be productive.
A key characteristic behind this space is shown topographically through the undulating floor plates that separates the instruction spaces. The floor plates create different climates to allow students to situate in a climate that makes them feel comfortable and exercise efficient learning. Hills are also created that divides spaces for students that prefer intimate learning or group learning.

Immediately after the instruction zone, students escape to the second zone, a space of procrastination for a short time.
Procrastination zones are spaces to intensify distractions. Students are encouraged to procrastinate. It’s a space that allows the students to dwell subconsciously on what was previously taken in consciously by distracting the mind enabling creative ideas to surface.

There are various spaces that encourage procrastination such as the ropes of insanity – a space for physical procrastination.

In the final zone - production zone - each student undertakes a project over the course of a year and because of its complexity makes it impossible to complete. For example, it could be a student that is passionate about art coming up with an artwork that cures world hunger. Curricular activities revolving around the project achieving heuristic learning.

Original thinkers have many failures before success. Since the project is long term and impossible, students can test ideas where failure is encouraged through iterations, and one may be an original idea. Production zones are spaces to intensify the freedom to fail.

Students are conditioned to accept failure as a learning strategy with projects that are showcased for other students and public to see. However, a failure to one student may be an original idea to another student. Failure leads to the original idea.

Failure is showcased within the floor plates. The open floor plates with the dedicated glass huts allow for students to constantly gaze at other students working in different disciplines fostering inspiration and inter-disciplinary learning.

These huts are adaptable to function as a gallery to showcase failure, with the students inside them act as a real time performance of failure. The space can also be hired by creative professionals to use, also providing inspiration and business opportunities for students.

Technical information

Another idea is the use of the buildings cores. They are not only structural, they centralise all the services so that for each discipline working in the production zones can be near one another. They also act conceptually as these 'towers of failure'.

The cores also allow designing for redundancy. This notion of incompleteness that is embedded in the pedagogy is transferred to the nature of the building itself.

We understand school populations fluctuates, we can accommodate and adapt through this idea of an incomplete school. This is an economic strategy as land size becomes more expensive, the cores allow for vertical extensions.

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