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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Rethinking Schools : school design and students' relationships with the natural world Dutt, Indira


This thesis asks how are intermediate students’ relationships with the natural world mediated by the design of their school building? This question is explored by looking at students’ responses to two design features of their school building: the relationship of the school building to the school site and indoor/outdoor interfaces. In addition, students’ ideas about hypothetical school buildings that foster a relationship with nature were also investigated. The fieldwork for this project was conducted in the spring of 2009 at Bowen Island Community School, which is part of the West Vancouver School District, and located on Bowen Island, B.C. Data was collected from two focus groups using arts based inquiry as well as five semi-structured interviews, photographs and fieldnotes. Using thematic analysis, the research found that nearby nature and the presence of indoor/outdoor interfaces provided students with a sense of freedom, joy, social cohesiveness and aesthetic pleasure. In addition participants had valuable design ideas for creating a strong connection between students and the natural world at school. Results are discussed in terms of future school design and student impact.

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