Eco-Cubby is a workshop program for children that places architects and designers in schools and communities to promote the concept of sustainable design. Through the development of an Eco-Cubby, children engage in challenging dialogue to learn about, build awareness of and take action for sustainable living.
Each project is unique, but all focus on the process, identification and understanding of issues raised through the development of a sustainable living environment. Children learn about architecture and the built environment in a fun, engaging and hands-on way. Teachers and architects collaborate to provide children with a variety of skills in many subject areas to develop their knowledge of sustainability and design – function, materials, shelter, enclosure and resources.
High level concepts are presented and are transferred between areas of the curriculum such as: maths, geography, science, english & literacy, environmental studies, studies of society and the environment and art and design. Eco-Cubby is a project that can be revisited and developed over a number of years and participants are encouraged to continue the program within their community.
Documentation of the thought and design process, along with Eco- Cubby scale models, are exhibited each year, including at the Sustainable Living Festival (Melbourne) and other locations across Victoria. These exhibitions offer the chance for participants’ outcomes to inform other children about sustainable living principles.
Architects in this program have time and again been humbled and heartened by the children and their capacity to learn and understand - especially the youngest children involved in the project. Given the importance of offering children rich and diverse learning opportunities in the early years, the high-level and challenging concepts tackled by Eco-Cubby when delivered in Kindergartens, has given young children the capacity to understand concepts such as how their bodies 'fit' within the built environment, ultimately developing a sense of 'place', which in turn helps to create a confident sense of self.
We have a growing generation of design savvy kids out there who, given the opportunity, can effectively work with each other on projects such as this to achieve real learning outcomes. Eco-Cubby's focus is on the learning processes delivered by the architect in collaboration with the teacher. We therefore do not under estimate the power of learning at whatever age and are privileged to be able to offer this kind of program.
Through a program like Eco-Cubby, architecture as a profession is made accessible to children and is celebrated and encouraged.
Eco-Cubby has engaged children in hands-on and authentuc learning. Learning outside the classroom has offered non-academic students the opportunity to develop skills such as team work and problem solving. These skills can then be transferred back into the classroom with positive results.
‘At every stage we found pupils eager to be involved in discussing, planning and building the Eco-Cubby models. Pupils gained valuable experience from the classes resulting in them having increased knowledge of aspects of building design, efficient use of energy resources as well as increased knowledge of building models and construction.’ (Trevor Edwards, Principal Napoleons Primary School)