This fall, 14 eight-to-10-year-old students were studying the Middle Ages as part of their home school program, and were looking to augment their studies with a hands-on project about the architecture of the time. Since the group does not have a shared classroom, the Center for Architecture served as the home base for an eight-week residency in which students built a scale model of a typical medieval European walled town.
The program began with an introduction to new architectural terms and important elements of medieval building design and structure, as well as an overview of the general layout and organization of a medieval town. Each student then chose trades from the Middle Ages that they adopted and created models of the related house/workshops. Together, the group also built a Gothic church for the town, exploring features such as Gothic arches and the use of buttresses. Through this residency, students learned about architecture, the jobs, and daily life of medieval people, as well as developing skills in scale measurement and model building.
While each member of the group is pursuing their own study of the Middle Ages independently, through the Center for Architecture Foundation they were able to come together. In January, the students will complete the town by building the castle and surrounding walls, adding scaled-to-size people and other appropriate accessories. This new residency program was such a success that plans are underway for a spring program focusing on early Native American life in the NY area.