You don’t spend time in the design world without quickly running across Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley, co-directors of Studio-X NYC and founders of BLDGBLOG and Edible Geography, respectively. Their latest project is Venue, a 16-month expedition across the country that melds ecology, geography, design, data collection, ethnography, and good old-fashioned storytelling. I love that this 21st-century Lewis-and-Clark team are thinking about the US beyond its cities and documenting it in such a fun, accessible way.
Most students will race for the door when the bell rings no matter how nice their classroom, but the SAGE (Smart Academic Green Environment) Classroom has a chance of keeping kids in their chairs. I toured the modular prototype, a winner of the International SEED Award, at Greenbuild last year and was pleased to find a clean, healthful, affordable solution to learning environments. The team, which includes Portland State University, Blazer Industries, Pacific Mobile Structures, and LG Electronics, did its homework so that students can too.
Andrea Faber Taylor
You can never have too much evidence that green schools actually do help encourage learning. Andrea Faber Taylor, a child environment and behavior researcher at the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has found that just a view of green space boosts student performance because it will capture a child’s “involuntary attention” and allow his or her “directed attention”—the kind we use to listen, study, take tests—a chance to rest. I hope administrators, architects, and builders pay attention.
Printing ink on paper has been one of our most powerful acts as a species, and Hong Kong-based Repap may let us continue in a more sustainable way. The company creates paper from stone. The stuff filling the pages of its Ogami notebooks is calcium carbonate, a limestone byproduct, and water. In addition to saving trees, the process for making the acid- and chlorine-free paper is efficient and requires no bleach since the product is naturally white. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these.
Ring Around a Tree
I took a dance class once, a mistake I will never make again. However, it did show me how little we use our bodies as adults. Kids push their physical limits, and they learn from doing so. This is what’s brilliant about Tezuka Architects’ Ring Around a Tree. Six floors are sandwiched into the height of two stories, creating a space that forces students of Fuji Elementary in Tokyo to interact with it by crouching and crawling through spaces, which is especially beneficial to kinetic learners. We need more of anything that trains our kids not to sit at desks for eight hours a day but to use their bodies. tezuka-arch.com