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Darıca Open Classroom and Garden

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For whom: Darıca Primary School students
With whom: KODA, Kent ve Çocuk (City and Child), Mardin Artuklu University Department of Architecture students
When: 2018

In March – November 2018, with Köy Okulları Değişim Ağı (Village Schools Exchange Network (KODA)) Association and Kent ve Çocuk (City and Child) initiative, we realized an open classroom and garden project for Harran Darıca village’s primary school in Şanlıurfa. Students from the Mardin Artuklu University Department of Architecture were also included in the project at Darıca Primary School, which is one of the schools that KODA works in their “United Teachers for Unified Classes” project.

The United Teachers for Unified Classes project, which aims for village teachers to come together with experts in the fields they need to develop innovative studies and practices for their schools, is a study implemented by KODA in 5 village schools in Harran in 2017 – 2018. In January 2018, we held a meeting with KODA, who realized the physical needs of schools and wanted to support them and with Kent ve Çocuk, a city planning initiative focusing on children and childhood, about what we can do for Darıca together. In this meeting, in addition to the preliminary works for painting the school and the lodging, improving the flooring of the building, we decided to make a design workshop in March to visit the school, meet the teachers, students and villagers.

Our members, KODA employees, members of Kent ve Çocuk, students of Mardin Artuklu University Architecture Department, teachers of the village school, students of the village school and other children and youngsters from the village participated in the design workshop held on March 9-11. Children were gathered around the tables while the models of the school were made and included in the production and spontaneously divided into four groups; then, they continued to put their ideas into models using various materials – with older participants who supported the use of tools as needed. Following this study, which also provided the opportunity for children’s opinions to be spoken verbally, we prepared a presentation by interpreting common, dissociating and prominent ideas. The next day, after the presentation we shared with the children and other residents of the village, we left the village by talking about the outputs of the design workshop and hearing the support that the villagers could provide in the implementation workshop and continued our design works.

The construction workshop was planned to be held in May, but it was postponed to November due to lack of work schedule and preliminary preparations. During this postponement, while the designs were elaborated, it became a necessity to revise the proposals for the open classrooms and garden due to the resource transferred to the other garden and interior floor renovations. In the same period, the National Education Directorate undertook the renovation of the wall of the school garden and the painting of the interiors. Here you can find the booklet where we put together the ideas and design suggestions of children.

We realized the construction workshop of the project on 4-11 November 2018. Our members, KODA employees, Kent ve Çocuk members, Mardin Artuklu University Architecture Department students, village teachers and villagers participated in this workshop, too. During the workshop, we built a wooden open classroom in the front yard and a garden with wood, straw and earth plaster in the backyard.

Open classroom, reaching 6 and 6.85 m in two directions, created with four different levels for multiple usage suggestions and considering active users; can be used for nursery class, for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th classes’s lessons occuring in the same time as partial platforms, also an united platform for common use of school members, villagers and potential groups, and can be considered as a playground or stage or a tribune next to the concrete ground that the village’s youngsters and children demand for team games. The structure of the open classroom; forming legs by combining pairs of wood of different lengths due to the beam height allowance we have cutted before according to the details of the application project; connecting the legs to be located in the same direction with the main beams; then all the foot clusters were connected to the opposite direction with intermediate beams. To stop contact with water, we made concrete footings around wood posts, which we had previously lubricated. In the days following this work, which was completed in two days, we performed the cutting, assembly, sanding and casking works of the surface coatings according to the project details.

For the garden we built in the backyard, we sieved 2 m3 clay soil brought from the vicinity of the village. After sieving the soil, we prepared the rough clay plaster by mixing it with sand and straw and put it on hold. While waiting for the soil plaster, we decided the location of the garden and laid the mixture of rough sand – gravel on the floor. We put wooden pallets on the ground to form squares that lay crosswide in a maximum length of 4.2 meters in both directions, and placed nylon bags on the pallets to stop contact with water, then placed the hay bales. We left 4 spaces for 4 classes in the garden surrounded by a wooden frame to leave the bales inside. After plastering the straw with fine plaster, first with rough plaster, and then with egg yolk and a small amount of lime, we covered the upper part with wooden material for both seat and preventing the soil plaster from contacting with rain water. After the coating process was completed, we poured the leftover soil into the intermediate spaces. We had already done a design work for garden, but we updated the design according to the conditions of the materials in the field and realized the application.

Due to increasing rainfall and prolonged power outages from time to time, we completed the workshop with a three-day delay by also working in the evenings. Before the end of the workshop, the children were already began to use the open classroom and the garden excitingly. The varnishing was done by the school teacher and the children after we left the village.

We would like to thank the KODA and Kent ve Çocuk team for this enjoyable and instructive process, teacher Emine Özder for her selfless work, the villagers who welcomed us warmly in both workshops, university students and all the village children and youngsters.

Here you can find the photo album of the workshop, which is supported with the fund KODA received from Sabancı Foundation Grant Program.

Design workshop participants:

Herkes İçin Mimarlık: Betül Alioğlu Barutçu, Mihriban Duman KODA: Esra Yıldırmış Kent ve Çocuk: Başak İncekara, Gizem Kıygı Mardin Artuklu University Department of Architecture Students: Büşra Akıncı, Doğan Kalak, İsa Atay, Muhammet Arif Eskin, Musa Tekin, Sena Nur Gülecen, Sidar Alışık, Zehra Aysel, Zehra Kandemir School Teacher: Emine Özder Children and residents of Darıca

Construction workshop participants:

Herkes İçin Mimarlık: Betül Alioğlu Barutçu, Emre Gündoğdu, Mihriban Duman, Mina Öner, Yuvacan Atmaca KODA: Mehmet Altundağ Kent ve Çocuk: Başak İncekara Mardin Artuklu University Department of Architecture Students: Doğan Kalak, Nurefşan Altay, Sena Nur Gülecen School Teachers: Emine Özder, Firdevs Beytimur Children and residents of Darıca

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