Building from the Bottom Up

Building from the Bottom Up

Samples of the teaching kit

Secondary school students explore various topics related to architecture

Architecture is all around us, yet few people in Hong Kong understand its history, evolution, technology, or impacts on such things as the environment, art and heritage. Until recently, the subject was taught only at university level to budding architects. Now, a project by the Faculty of Architecture is helping to broaden understanding and appreciation in the community.

The target is Form 4-6 secondary school students. Staff and students of the faculty have been working with schools, the Education Bureau, the Hong Kong Institute of Architects and local practicing architects to devise an award-winning teaching kit on architecture that can be applied within the existing curriculum.

The teaching kit connects architecture to the liberal arts, science, art and technology through four books of 40 units each. Teacher training has been provided through seminars, workshops and field trips, and 12 videos have been produced to support the materials.

The project co-ordinator, Dr Wong Wah-sang, said they had simple but well-defined goals. "We’re not trying to make all secondary school students become architects," he said, "but we believe if architecture can become shared common knowledge, people will become more aware of their built environment and related fields, such as town planning, real estate and landscaping. And if students know more about architecture, they will have more concern for the environment."

The project materials were devised with extensive input from secondary school teachers on their pedagogy and content needs. Students and architects were also invited to provide input.

Feedback on the project, which was funded by Create Hong Kong, has been highly positive. Last year the project was nominated by Hong Kong Institute of Architects for the Golden Cube award sponsored by the International Union of Architects.

In a survey of 630 teachers from local secondary schools, more than 90 per cent said the teaching kit enhanced their knowledge of architecture and they planned to use it, and more than 85 per cent said it helped them to use architecture examples in their teaching. A website to support the teaching kit has also had more than 5,200 view counts and the number is steadily increasing.

The teaching kit will also be used in the Hong Kong/Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in the coming winter to reach out to a wider audience through workshops and seminars for schools. Ms Tris Kee, the project manager, said they would also try to enhance the interactive nature of the materials. "We're also hoping that eventually primary schools and kindergartens can have knowledge of architecture, too," she said.

Ms Tris KEE and Dr W.S. WONG of the Department of Architecture received the Faculty Knowledge Exchange Award 2015 of the Faculty of Architecture for 'Architecture Teaching Kit for All Secondary Schools in Hong Kong'.