Saved by the Bell: A Feminist Approach to High School Architecture
The years spent as high school students are some of the most formative to the development of confidence in identity, and in preparing young people to be resilient adults. The school environments in which development occurs have an imperative role to play in providing space for identity to form freely and in providing equal opportunity for students to succeed. This research will focus on understanding how architecture might provide the space for identities to form freely and how processes and spatial outcomes could encourage this development to happen equitably. This research engages feminist theory, processes and practices to increase spatial agency and identity agency for students. Encouraging the autonomy of students hopes to influence a sense of purpose and belonging to the space, and help students feel belonging within a community. The theoretical position of this research is between feminist practice and gender and space. Supporting fields of research include pedagogy and policy. Whilst each existing field is independently expansive in scope, this research explores how these fields intersect, overlap and function when applied to the context of high school architecture. A design-led methodology will inform four Pieces towards the completion of this research, each considering ‘design’ as the process, outcome and representation strategies. The first Piece, Processes, will involve the design and running of participatory workshops with students. The second Piece, Sites, will include photo analysis of existing schools to uncover what information existing architecture might be disseminating. The third Piece, Interventions, will be the design of actionable guides, posters, zines and ‘take- aways’ that share the findings of the research. The fourth and final Piece, Speculations, will include speculative concept designs that respond to the accumulated knowledge and provoke curiosity for the potential in this research area and way of practicing. The outcomes of this research, the feminist architectural processes, designs and communication, aim to better understand how to facilitate participation in architecture for identity development and therefore help equalise opportunities in education.