The Montessori School “Derech Ha’Yeled” – Conversion of Student Dormitories and Colleges of Mechanical Engineering.
The design of the Montessori school is done from a deep personal connection to the pedagogical rationale, and out of a search for the place where architecture can contribute to strengthening the values on which the approach is based upon.
Environmental planning – a reflection of the universe
The school located inside the village was designed as a “village within a village” in a cluster of 7 buildings scattered over an area of about 1 acre. In order to reinforce the principle of the approach of creating a reflection of the universe, in a tangible and not only abstract way, the whole school was built as an edible forest that includes the variety of edible elements that nature offers.
In the first phase, the overall environment of the area was planned, with the aim of creating easier and safer passages for school children, topographic flattening was done and most of the various exterior levels were eliminated and become fully accessible which included a number of stairs.
In the leveled area, two levels were created for stepping stones and edible vegetation, with the lower area intended for the three junior grades (1st-3rd) and the upper area for the three senior grades (4th-6th) and the Junior High.
In the design of the buildings, emphasis was placed on encouraging curiosity and learning by choice, and for this purpose huge windows were opened in each building, with the aim of bringing the outside in, allowing as much light and natural air into the classrooms, and allowing visual communication from the outside to the inside and vice versa.
Classroom planning – a feeling of home and security
In order to give each child a “homey” feeling, each classroom was designed to include personal spaces, common spaces and a private yard that is an integral part of it.
The classrooms include a private entrance with a foyer where each child has a personal space for storing their private belongings. In each classroom, toilets and kitchens were designed for breakfast preparation and for conducting scientific experiments.
Based on the Montessori principle that intelligence develops in movement, and to support the different forms of learning of the Montessori method: imparting, watching another group, and learning through learning, classrooms were designed with an open space, without any partitions or barriers, creating a variety of learning areas and allowing children’s flexibility, independence and free choice.
In addition, in each space, internal niches were built from natural materials, shelves were assembled (which included the special educational “aids” of the Montessori method), and a huge storage cabinet was installed that extends over an entire wall and also incorporates a projector board and screen.