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« Opportunity and Pain in the Small Schools Movement

The following email came to the DesignShare offices this past weekend.

Messages like this remind us that we are very blessed to be involved in the larger world of school design, planning, and construction, acting as advocates for design teams around the globe. More importantly, we are blessed to share this larger world of ’school design’ with passionate and committed individuals like this writer:

I have known your website and its [Design Awards] competition since I was an M.Arch student. Your web site was a great motive for me to chose educational field as my thesis subject and future career.

I chose Tehran Virtual School for my thesis title which was a school designed for the Iranian Ministry of Education. Articles and Award winning projects that were presented on your website really helped me to get a new approach for deigning this unique school which will be the first Iranian cyber school. This school will have two kinds of student: real students and on-line students. The architecture of this school is composed of two different architectures [as well]: real architecture and virtual architecture.

After completing my design, I have proposed my scheme to the ministry and I am waiting for their response to start making construction documents. Now I believe that I can take part in your competition.

Background on the project. A striking reminder of how research can often lead us in directions previously unknown:

I am sending a brief visualized description of my project to you as an attachment to this mail.

About the process of reaching the final scheme I can say, the idea of working on children environments struck me when I had an Architectural Design Studio 2 at the Iran University of Science and Technology School of Architecture. Those days I reached the idea of working on this field. I discussed it with my advisor -Dr. Hashem- and he encouraged me to follow my interest.

I worked for about 8 months on children psychology in the Piaget point of view. I am sure most have been familiar with his great approach. I believe his point of view can be a amazing ground in order reaching architectural concepts, for many reasons. Along with these studies, I studied contemporary children literature, such as Harry Potter, Shel Silverstein works, etc. I wanted to understand today’s children as they really are, not as adults want them to be.

I studied lots of articles about E-learning and cyberspace, soome of which is written by non-architect scholars, trying to attain architectural concepts out of them.

After all these studies, I started the design process, I thought of where my school can be built. I discussed it with my advisor. We finally chose its site. At the beginning of my research, I send my proposal to the Ministry of Education. They were interested, but unfortunately I have not been able to get any aid for doing my research. I did it with my own funds. After competing my project I sent them a copy. I don’t know what the status is currently. Unfortunately as you can hear in the recent news, the Iranian government has some other priorities for spending their money.

These are some background elements about my project. I hope these along with the pdf file -which is part of my portfolio- can give you a clear vision of my project.

All I have written was about my past, now I want to talk about my future. While I was engaged in doing my thesis, I decided to continue my studies abroad. After graduation I followed it. Now I am accepted into Illinois Institute of Technology, College of Architecture, Ph.D program. If I can get my student visa, I will start my studies there in the fall 2006.

Needless to say, his program is very fortunate to have him in their midst. Hopefully the visa situation will resolve itself so that he can continue his studies.

A remarkable affirmation for all of us as to the power of sharing resources, case studies, and innovative design solutions.

Ultimately, it’s not about any one of us being ‘experts’ that have the singular ’solution’ for our clients or team. Instead it is about the continual choice to ‘pay it forward’, to help each client and colleague realize their own unique solutions. And also to celebrate individuals/teams such as this writer who has taken raw resources/research, turning them into something far more powerful in the end.

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