Have you ever noticed that when you shift the frame of reference of how you look at something, you’re rewarded with a different understanding of what you see? For example, your understanding of a subject in a close-up photograph, or a piece of art in a gallery rather than in a book, is very different depending on how you experience it.
Having a different, deeper perspective forces us to consider a situation in a whole new and completely different way. Looking at things differently helps us paint a much more detailed picture or consider another point of view.
At JDH Architects, we practise our ability to look at things from a new and unique perspective on a daily basis. As designers, innovators and visionaries, we think and see not only out of the box but also from the perspective of everyone we meet. This skill is called reframing.
We first identified the importance of re-framing in 2007 when we completed our inaugural primary school design. As experts in the design of early learning facilities, but relative novices in primary school design, our first course of action was to question, observe, listen and learn from our clients and the educators we were working with.
As we talked to more people and our viewing horizons expanded, we were challenged with new and exciting educational projects. We saw more, learnt more and engaged more, and started to ask, what problem are you really trying to solve with this project?
We looked and saw that schools, like people, have very different and diverse requirements.
We looked another way and saw that great teaching is an innate talent and very hard to get teachers themselves to describe.
We looked down and saw that over the last century, schools have been created, built and expanded without ever consulting the real client – the students.
By looking at people, projects, and practice from every perspective we are able to re-frame and magnify our understanding of our clients problems, and then design a way to an innovative solution. (click to Tweet)
Reframing to great designers is problem solving, and great design frames the problem and provides (often many) great solutions and wonderful perspectives.
If you want to practice expanding your perspective a good way to start is to simply ask, why?
The process of asking “why?” is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to understanding a person or a problem.
And so it is with school design. When a school asks for a new building the first thing we ask them is why?
Often the why is valid from a facility need, but looking from at different angle allows you to uncover the deeper and more important educational why?
The great thing about why is that it changes depending who you ask.
If you ask an educator why schools are important they will talk tell you they are places to learn.
If you ask a five-year old why school is important they will tell you that it’s because school is the place they meet their friends and play.
St Catherine Laboure Primary School
Our perspective– we design primary schools as places to meet friends and play, and in the process of creating a these spaces we will also create inspiring architecture in which to learn be educated.
It seems to me that it is this ability to put things into perspective and look at problems as creative possibilities that is the warp and the weft of the teaching profession.
At JDH Architects our critical and reflective thinking process allows everyone to get to the crux of a problem and find innovative ways in which to create transformative learning spaces. It aligns us to the school communities we work with and creates an opportunity for us to really engage as a team.
Knowledge, perspective, and humility are the key to reframing.
It brings forward new ideas, innovative solutions and allows us to co-create amazing learning environments with the whole school community.