Built environment education

In Hungary ’built environment education’ doesn’t exist neither as locution nor as subject area. Yet. We use it as equivalent to the English „civic education in architecture” or the German “architekturvermittlung”, however it is really hard to translate it to Hungarian as it even absent in a theoretical level. Fortunately though, there are a growing number of initiatives and projects in Hungary, that we could describe with this expression. From various arisen opportunities, such as e.g. city education, architecture mediation or city interposition, we choose built environment education.

What is built environment education?

Built environment education condenses the complex of those pedagogical resources, methods and theories that are aiming to establish close bond with people and their environment. It aims to that children, young people, adults and elderly people could gain a better orientation in their native environment, to become more open-minded about its peculiarities, to be able to subscribe to it, to take ownership and later to take an active part in it’s shaping. It contributes to the abovementioned aims by using interactive activities grouped around diverse topics connected to the built environment, It encourages critical reception instead of passive observation and the analysis of different environmental stimulus. It motivates to taking part in shaping common spaces and territories. It interposes a proactive and creative approach.

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The goal of built environment education

  1. It encourages responsible behaviour and active participation in preserving and improving the built environment.
  2. As the positive effect of environments rich of stimuli is proved, built environment education contributes to the groth of the standard of living in long-term.
  3. Built environment education draws attention to segregation issues, such as ghettoisation or isolation of luxury residential complexes within the city.
  4. Expansion of the children’s world. Due to the extreme ground gaining of electronic medias (TV, internet), children’s world is keep on growing narrower and narrower either physicly and social relationships wise, as they mostly spend their time within the four walls. One of its consequences is that they hardly know even their close environment and they become unable to create the spatial relationship amongst the island-like locations of their outdoor and social activities.

Possible locations and forms of activities

’The last thing fish are interested in is water’… Thats how we generaly percieve our environment too. We interact with our environment in every single minute of our lives, still we engage with it consciously, surprisingly little. In order to make ourselves more aware of it’s significance we have to shift our approach primarly in the field of education, as to develop responsible and proactive behavior it is best to start it at an early age. For the present, in Hungary this topic is confined to visual art, art history and technics classes. The most typical form of built environment education is the creative session held in specialist museums, such as collections of towns or particular locations and architectural exhibits. These sessions are generally held in the museum’s or the school’s premises and an inspiring walk or quiz can be terrific amendment to it. However, in other countries in recognition of the complexity of this topic, it was integrated in several different subjects. In Finnland and several German states it constitutes the elemental part of subjects, such as maths, environmental studies, physics, geography, grammar and literature. Outside the classroom, they organise projects, summer camps and national tenders relating to the students living environment, the school’s spaces, the infrastructure, functioning and innovation of the city. Most often these are held outdoor, in the city space and encourage the participants to observe and analyse the environment in pursuance of novel points of views.