Approaching to Architecture
| Juan Sanmartin - 16 Apr 2023

In this article, I will talk about one of the subjects that I have always been attracted to by family ties and that I want to pass on to my students with the project “Approaching Architecture”.   Although my University degree is in Chemistry, I have been teaching Visual and Plastic Arts for more than two decades, and this subject comprises technical drawing too., essential to engineering, architecture, or even interior design

  The idea of the project came out when we realized that we could take advantage of some online applications where students can develop their projects with great skill and fluency and without the demands required by programs such as Autocad, 3DStudio, etc...

 Along with the experience of developing a final project, I wanted to incorporate the historical and plastic part of a branch such as architecture, a discipline closely linked to our civilization. We live, work, and enjoy... buildings, houses, etc... Bringing students closer to certain elements of this discipline is very interesting to complete their training in Secondary Education. In this part of the project, we work on the artistic part, the sketch. The sketch is where the author of the project sets out his initial idea, an example of which is the sheet on Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame Chapel. I have created a series of worksheets with sketches of the great names in architecture, now and forever, such as Norman Foster, Zara Hadid, Frank Lloyd Wright, etc... At the same time as they work on the worksheets, I share with them the biography of these references or I propose a cooperative work on one of them or one that they propose to me. Getting to know the most influential architects and their works, is one of the axes of this project which I hope will leave a mark on my students, appreciating the Tower of London Bridge in the same way that they can enjoy Norman Foster’s City Hall, for example.

 It is clear that Antonio Gaudí, the great Spanish architect, is a reference point on this subject. His work, from the Sagrada Familia, Casa Milá, or the Güel Park in Barcelona, as well as others built throughout Spain, are the subject of study in this project. Not only for the constructive part but also for the plasticity and originality of the design.

 It is not my intention to lead my students towards University careers such as Engineering or Architecture, although I believe that giving them a glimpse of some elements of these disciplines can give them an idea of the work carried out by professionals in the sector and generate vocations or propose paths for their future studies. In this respect, and to have direct contact with current affairs, we have planned talks with professionals from the sector (architects, engineers, decorators...) who will tell us about their professional experience and share with us the projects in which they are involved.

  Approaching Architecture is an ambitious project that I hope to keep growing with contributions over the coming years. It wants, with the external collaboration of professionals from the sector, to create a fun learning environment, where students, as they deepen into the subject, will develop new interests that will lead them to continue exploring.

Another no less important objective of this project is to familiarise my students with concepts such as technical drawing in its real or everyday use, to learn how a house is distributed or how to decorate commercial premises, and also to have an idea of the space for its use, to see the size of a room on a plan or the space that will be left for storage when considering a business. I have always considered that the overall training of a student who finishes Compulsory Education should include being able to read a plan, to know how to interpret it because at any moment, as I have already mentioned, he or she will have this need.

 To develop this project I have used some specific digital tools for the subject that I will be increasing from now onwards, because, as I explained, I consider it a dynamic and updatable project.                                                   Approaching...

  As in the other subjects I teach, I have introduced the Flipped Classroom methodology. In the case of technical drawing, I have created the didactic videos with the GeoenZo tool, a digital tool  I use for classroom explanations and with which I have developed the videos that I share with the students on the web or in the digital classroom. I think it is a very didactic application for this part of the subject.

For the development of the different final works, either a house or commercial premises, I have used the Floorplanner application. This tool allows my students to create creative projects simply. Floorplanner is a very intuitive tool where the students make their proposals without spending a lot of time learning how to use the tool. In addition to working on the concept of space and distribution, the students can work on the final decoration in a simple way and with fantastic finishes for the educational level in which the project has been implemented.

  As this is a living project, at the moment  I am working with other tools that I intend to include in the project such as SketchUp, and pCon.planner, Planner 5D...

  To sum up, I would like to point out the great acceptance of the project by my students. Learning has been favored with the implementation of the Flipped Classroom methodology as they can view the content of the videos at any time and solve their doubts afterward with the teacher by their side. In the performance of the final projects, the originality and detail of their projects surprised me. With no previous knowledge and, in most cases, with the instructions included in the initial video that I prepared, they carried out magnificent projects, developing original ideas.

  It has also fostered cultural exchange as they have learned about architectural works carried out in other countries, which they have had to exhibit to their classmates. I hope that this project will grow and consolidate over time.

My name is Juan Sanmartín, teacher of plastic, visual and audiovisual arts in Secondary Education (Galicia - Spain). I’m the creator and administrator of the website that bears my name ( - a web of resources with creative commons license) and also the author of several articles on education and digital tools. I’m an international lecturer on active methodologies such as Flipped Classroom, a methodology that I have implemented in the classroom since 2014.

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