Where is Education Going?

 

 

 

A question asked by a competition for young architects aspiring to continue their education

“Can you present a creative vision of the future and with that, gain the means to change your own future?” That was the challenge posed to all young architects through this competition for ‘School of the Future’ and by its organizers Magaz Magazine, the Heliopolis Association (sponsor of the Hundred School Project), and the Aanhalt University School of Architecture in Dessau Germany (DIA).
What will the schools of the future look like? Will they be physical or virtual? Will they have classrooms or will they be out in the fields and the streets? Will schools be structured on a hierarchical approach to knowledge or on a horizontal environment-based structure that continues to change from location to location and time to time?
The competition sought to go beyond the current approach of upgrading the schools (currently being the objective of the Hundred Schools Project). “We are interested in raising questions that touch the core of the problems with the current educational system,” explained Mahmoud Saleh, head of the project.
It was envisioned that to engage children of the 21st century more effectively and creatively, schools had to be made more relevant to the reality where children are living. Hence, one idea is to create schools that deal with specific important local and global issues or problems. This can be a neighbourhood overcrowding characteristic or a more pervasive global warming problem.
The jury, headed by Professor Johannes Kister, Dean of Anhalt University Architecture Department, Germany, included also Professor Daniel Dendra from DIA, Germany, Dr. Farouk el Gohary, from the 100 Schools Project, Dr. Aly Hatem Gabr from Cairo University, Dr. Tarek Naga, Naga Studio, LA & Cairo, Dr. Ahmed Mito from Ain Shams University, Dr. Amr Abdel Kawi from Magaz Magazine, Dr. Ayman Wanas, Arab Academy for Science & Technology, and Architect Mazen Adbul Karim, Graduate of DIA.
The jury’s initial debates over the criteria for evaluation were interesting in view of the fact that the competition prizes were not your traditional cash prizes, but rather scholarships for a Master of Architecture degree from the DIA in Germany. Hence, the jury finally agreed that the potentials of the presented vision were not the only criteria, but rather the potentials of the mind behind that vision was to be an important factor in making the decision.
Though the projects presented good ideas, the jury felt that in general the full potentials of the candidates were not reached. Many of the contestants could not break out of the traditional building-centered approach and hence lost focus of the real questions of the competition. Others presented very interesting seeds for ideas but failed to take them to their fruition; while others exhibited excellent research and analytical skills, they seemed to forget the vision in the process.
The top six projects were easy to agree on by the nine member jury; however, it was then that the debates heated-up. Those projects were mostly chosen for the vision they presented. They were all trying to look beyond the conventional and imagine a different relationship between student and environment. The jury often debated on the practicality of some of the ideas, yet they agreed on the need to recognize the effort. The following phase of evaluation entailed identifying not only the stronger ideas, but also the potentially stronger contestant.
The projects by Mokhtar Hosny Ahmed Akl, Ahmed Mohammed Ibrahim Al Badawy, and Laila Ahmed Selim were clearly the three at the top of that list. The debates on distinguishing between them to select the recipients of the two available scholarships were so heated, that an impasse was reached. To resolve it, the jury decided with the organizers to allocate a third scholarship award so as to recognize all three contestants.

 
 
       
   

First Prize

   

Second Prize

   

Third Prize
   

Honorable Mention 1
   

Honorable Mention 2
   

Honorable Mention 3