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Pinball School

Project Information
Sebastian Tiong

This architectural configuration affirms the traditional social hierarchy of schools whereby teachers hold authority over their individual classroom, while students are required to follow a controlled path. The corresponding pedagogical philosophy views education as a process and is procedural in nature. Students are required to follow a prescribed pathway upon which success is dependent on its completion.

An analogy which describes this pedagogical philosophy and its corresponding spatial configuration is the marble run. Students are like marbles on a prescribed pathway held up by the structural framework of a static education system, where
certain criteria must be passed. Individuality is disregarded in this scenario. On a micro level, the marble run describes the circulatory conditions of many educational buildings, one controlled by corridors leading into rooms, in many cases a path with minimal variation to be followed daily.

To reflect pedagogical models of the 21st century, such as Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, one where authority to control educational development is placed with the individual student, a new spatial model must be proposed. In contrast to the marble run, the analogy of a pin ball machine can used to design spaces which incites creativity and inquiry-based learning. In a pin ball machine, balls are propelled from the base and rebound off various items during their trajectory.

In this pedagogical model, students like the projectile chart their own individual pathway, facilitated by a broad range of study options and learning spaces. As illustrated in the diagram, interactivity with other students is encouraged. Although there is great flexibility in the curriculum for personal exploration, this occurs in a controlled environment, as like in a pin ball machine world.
Translating this social- cultural practice into architecture, one could envision a school consisting of a spatial field, in which rooms designed according to different disciplines and learning styles are embedded. Circulatory space is the ambiguous area in-between learning spaces, with a strong articulation of vertical circulation elements such as stairs and lift shafts, between floor plates. As in a pin ball machine, where the ball returns to the base, students return to their designated homebase area, before venturing to their next class