Team ········· Yotam Ben Hur
                    Harvard GSD
                    Hilary Sample MOS
Type ········· Laboratory School
Year ······ 2019
Status ······· Academic

Columbia University Laboratory School®
A laboratory school is a school of the future. It is an environment that proudly depicts our hopes and desires as educators and shapers of future young generations. When imagining a new type of primary public school for Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus, one must carefully react to the unique type of students attending the school, and also the extreme urbanized context surrounding it.

Urbanite children need a school that connects them to nature. A school that uses the natural environment as a therapeutic instrument. A pedagogy that explains the history of the previous eco-system and terrain once inhabiting their site. One that enriches them with the knowledge and skills of restoring and producing nature, food and water. And furthermore, educates them about the meaning of a sustainable future living.

Designing for a metropolitan site, and within a larger university campus, the project faces an urban neighborhood that demands the stacking of school programming. But stacking is not just a mere tectonic or organizational constraint and can be seen as an opportunity to create an architecture far richer and complex than that of a single story school.

Where in a single story building, an emphasis is put on constructing an enclosure or an interior, stacking enables an attempt to construct an extensive exterior- a particular experience or sensation of being outside. From stacking to collapsing, through the shifting and rotating of spaces, the project creates a system of codependent spaces. The void between the stacked bodies becomes a vertical ecosystem, activating a variety of enclosed classrooms, exterior terraces and semi enclosed green houses.

Can a school teach me to make real things? “If theological ideas prove to have a value for concrete life, they will be true, for pragmatism, in the sense of being good for so much. For how much more they are true, will depend entirely on their relations to the other truths that also have to be acknowledged.”

John Dewey rejected the duality of epistemology and metaphysics of modern philosophy and believed in the naturalistic approach that viewed knowledge as arising from an active adaptation of the human organism to its environment. On this view, learning is a process which initiates human action, proceeds to active manipulation of the environment to test hypotheses, and issues in a re-adaptation of organism to environment that allows once again for human action to proceed.

A school of nature, a garden school will teach its students real things that have a concrete value in life. Students will constantly adapt to their seasonally changing environment. Every floor will initiate a different type of human interaction with the natural surroundings.. A constant relationship of re-adaptation.