How to raise environmentally responsible kids? Nursery Fields Forever could be one of the answers.
Children living in an urban environment often lack direct experience and have terrible miconceptions about the world, the nature and how things work. For example, in primary school, children were asked to draw a cow. They draw a purple one because the only cow they ever saw was the purple one in the TV commercial for the Milka chocolate. Some children think corn grows in cans you buy at Aldi's. But they tend to know more about computing than most of their parents.
All is not lost, though. Children are very inquisitive by nature and this is something the designer team at aut - - aut (Gabriele Capobianco, Edoardo Capuzzo Dolcetta, Jonathan Lazar, Davide Troiani) thought would be good to explore and work on.
They created a concept of a future nursery school that sees the nursery "as a catalyst capable of combining, along with game, nature and technique in a renovated didactic path based on three approaches: learning from nature, learning from technique, and learning from practice." The Nursery Fields Forever is a farming project, where children can explore nature, plants and animals. By interacting with each other (promoting teamwork and social skills) and the teachers, taking care of animals and growing (and harvesting) their own organic food, the children develop a great amount of self-esteem, great sense of responsibility and healthy lifestyle from an early age on.
As designers see it, the children learn from teachers and assimilate through practice how to domesticate animals and plants. They also establish a respectful relationship with nature, with the human community and the places in which their life takes place. They begin to understand the nature and the world around them better because they experience everything first-hand. They live with nature, not only observe it.
Speaking to Fast Company, Dolcetta said: "We think that kids should enjoy nature. So we designed this strange school: No classrooms, but open spaces where vegetables grow inside and animals can come in too. It's a mixing of the two things, school and nature. A typical school has desks and chairs—in our school, there are not these things. And there's the freedom to stay inside or go outside."
The farming project is also the Winner of the AWR (Architecture Workshop in Rome) International Ideas Competition to design a new London Nursery School.